While I know the official first day of summer is still weeks away, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the season in my mind. It’s the start of cookouts and lawn games, and basically enjoying the outdoors in every way possible, as we know it’s fleeting in Vermont. For many people, cookouts are about the burgers and dogs or steaks on the grill. For me, cookouts are all about the sides… pasta salads, bean dips and fresh green salads. It is finally the time of year when the side dishes are filled with fresh, and soon to be local, produce. So after a month on the grill in honor of National BBQ Month, I was given free rein to choose this week’s post and I settled on a light and refreshing Strawberry Spinach salad. It may not be as exciting as the main dish, but I love having a go-to salad to bring to cookouts or enjoy as an entrée on a night I don’t want to cook. There are thousands of ways to make a salad and I had a hard time choosing which one I wanted to capture, but decided to focus on my favorite ingredients and mix up something delicious. I primarily use spinach as the base of all my salads, I like the texture and find it to be a bit more filling. I love adding fruit so I started with strawberries, but couldn’t resist tossing in some blueberries as well. I wanted some nuts to give it a slight crunch and chose sliced almonds, however, walnuts or roasted pecans would be yummy too. Goat cheese is a necessity in my opinion (I go with Doe’s Leap Chevre) as it’s creamy and adds great texture. Lastly I top it with some avocado, which makes it a hardier salad and adds a great flavor. Salad dressing is the key to success with any salad, it needs to have some flavor but also be subtle enough that the true tastes of the salad shine through. I created my own version of a poppy seed dressing that I think does just the trick!
What you’ll need:
For the salad (I did not list quantities as I feel it’s easiest to eyeball toppings based on the size of salad you are making)
- Fresh spinach
- Fresh strawberries (halved or quartered depending on size)
- Fresh blueberries
- Goat cheese (Recommend Doe’s Leap Chevre)
- Sliced Avocado
- Sliced almonds (or nut of your choice!)
For the dressing (These quantities make about a 1/2 cup of dressing)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
How you’ll do it:
- Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl or cup – set aside.
- Fill bowl with spinach, top with berries, nuts, goat cheese and avocado – toss together and enjoy!