Fresh spinach and sweet strawberries are a fantastic flavor combination. Add in crunchy pecans and you have yourself a great salad. This salad is fantastic because it is so easy and because it adds a little something special or gourmet to an everyday meal. Although all these ingredients can be found year-round, I especially like to make it this time of year when fresh spinach and strawberries are aplenty. This picture contains strawberries and spinach straight from my CSA! Keep in mind that both spinach and strawberries are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen. If you can’t get them from your local farm, buy organic if possible.
Of course, I am a huge fan of making your own salad dressing. If you haven’t gotten on the bandwagon yet, just take a look at the ingredient list next time you purchase bottled dressing at the supermarket. Most don’t even contain olive oil, but use cheap soybean or canola oil. Plus, they contain an array of stabilizers and preservatives. Making your own at home gives you control and it tastes much better, since you can customize it to your own taste preferences using quality ingredients. I always make mine on the fly when I prepare a salad. If you use basic ingredients that you can easily have on-hand, it takes only a minute or two to whip up.
For this salad, there is no question that it has to use balsamic vinegar. The sweet tangy balsamic pairs excellently with sweet strawberries. I like to keep it on the sweet side, so I also add in fruit preserves or fruit butter. My new favorite is fig butter from Trader Joe’s. It is sweet without overpowering the balsamic, but you can use any fruit preserve or fruit butter of choice.
Next time you want to take your standard weeknight meal up a notch, try this salad. I hope you enjoy it!
- 2 large handfuls of baby spinach (preferably organic)
- 6-8 strawberries (preferably organic), sliced
- ½ cup raw pecans, roughly chopped
- 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp fruit preserves or fruit butter (fig, strawberry, raspberry work best)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Place one large handful of baby spinach in each of 2 salad bowls.
- Distribute strawberries and pecans among the 2 bowls.
- In a small bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, fruit preserves and sea salt.
- Pour dressing over salads and enjoy.