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Fierce Foodie: Spring Salad


a blogumn by Roya Hamadani
Don't fear the aparagus and strawberries

Don't fear the aparagus and strawberries

After a long winter of soups and stews, I crave the freshness of crunchy greens.  I have been on a major salad kick lately, enjoying many tasty combinations such as baby beets and mild goat cheese with a little asparagus.  I found iceberg lettuce boring until my sister suggested shredding it with a handful of chopped parsley to give it flavor.  Once my garden returns I plan to try the same trick with fresh mint.

Dried cranberries go well with pistachios and feta cheese on romaine lettuce.  Shredded carrot and red cabbage provide a colorful alternative to lettuce, and pair well with a buttermilk dressing.  I am a huge fan of creamy avocado, especially when it is combined with turkey and bacon.  Mango serves this role equally well.  Artichoke hearts from a jar provide great taste and texture as well as salad dressing component over strips of sweet yellow pepper.

Some people avoid using fresh fruit in a green salad, but I think the tartness of strawberries combines well with spinach, mild goat cheese, and strawberry vinaigrette.  I also adore mandarin oranges with strong flavors such as fresh grated Pecorino Romano or a sesame soy dressing.  Blueberries also go well with a mild goat cheese and complement the crunch of slivered toasted almonds. 
Salty and sweet, crunchy and soft, creamy and acidic, these are the combinations I try to use in a salad to keep it interesting. And I’ve got one really great combination salad for you after the jump:

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

6 ounces baby spinach
5 strawberries, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 ounces mild goat cheese, crumbled

Strawberry Vinaigrette
¼ cup honey
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp strawberry jam

Mix vinaigrette ingredients in a blender, set aside. 

Combine spinach, strawberries, almonds and goat cheese into a large bowl and gently toss. Add dressing to taste and toss once more. Serve immediately.
. photo credit: Harald Walker