In June I had all kinds of gorgeous, berry delicious recipes picked out to make while strawberries were in season, sadly though life was hectic and I never made it to our local patch this year.
Strawberry picking is a tradition in our family that I’ve always looked forward to. The best part of being in the patch is popping that very first plump, juicy berry into your mouth and tasting that off-the-vine freshness that comes with picking your own. It sure motivates you to get picking and fill that basket so you can bring more of that berry goodness home with you.
Recipes abound for these ruby-red beauties and the possibilities they bring to the table are endless. One of the ways I’ve been eating them since the spring is in a goat cheese and spinach salad that I truly love.
For this salad, one of the things I really concentrated on, was the dressing. I wanted to come up with something that was light, summer-y, full of good-for-you ingredients and the most important thing – great berry flavour. Nothing artificial. I wanted to compliment the spinach and goat cheese with a berry-bursting freshness — the same freshness found in berry patches across Ontario.
Each year, I usually make strawberry jam as a way of capturing and enjoying those delicious berries all year-long. One of the jams I make is a no-cook strawberry freezer jam which is basically a mixture of freshly crushed berries, sugar, pectin and lemon juice. The jam is not cooked but poured directly into jars and kept in the freezer until I need it. Because it doesn’t go through a long cooking process, the jam is bright red, sweet and full of delicious berry flavour.
I had some in the freezer that hadn’t set all that well, so I’d been saving it to serve as a topping over ice cream. Then I thought, what better way to bring that berry-freshness to the dressing than to use my runny strawberry freezer jam. It would work perfectly as a base for a salad dressing.
I added a little olive oil to thin it out, apple cider vinegar and freshly squeezed lemon juice for a little flavour contrast, and some poppy seeds for crunch. This is now one of our all-time favourite dressings and it has everyone helping themselves to seconds of vitamin-packed spinach and strawberries. It takes just a couple of minutes to put together, and brings one of the freshest tasting dressings right to your table, so you can enjoy summer all year-long.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
6 cups spinach, washed
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
4 – 5 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1. Wash and dry spinach leaves and remove longs stems if necessary. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Wash strawberries, remove stems and cut into quarters. Place berries on top of spinach.
3. Crumble goat cheese into bite-size chunks and place on top of berries and spinach followed by the almonds.
4. Make the dressing.
Perfect Summer Preserve Strawberry Dressing
1/2 cup strawberry freezer jam
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir with a whisk for 30 seconds until incorporated or place all the ingredients in a mason jar fitted with a lid and shake for 15 seconds.
Pour over your salad and enjoy!
Any left over dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
If you don’t have strawberry freezer jam, you can easily substitute any favourite strawberry preserves.