On Wednesday morning, I decided to take the kids for a morning walk after a particularly chaotic bit of breakfast. We all needed the fresh air and the sun was finally making an appearance after a few days of inevitable April rain showers. As we made our way onto the porch, Amelia spied a few tulip bulbs finally popping up out of our little flower garden. We all crowded around the garden in a delicate mixture of relief and gratitude. For us it means that spring is finally here. While fall is my favorite season, spring certainly gets my creativity and productivity juices flowing. Warm weather in Maine is notoriously short-lived, so there is always this feeling of urgency to always make the most of the daylight, the warmth and the fresh produce when it finally makes it’s appearance! Strawberries aren’t growing yet but are finally on the horizon, so I was inspired to make this strawberry and goat cheese salad during dinner.
Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad
The kids were a bit hesitant at the mention of a “strawberry and goat cheese salad”. Strawberries? In a salad? Amelia, who is almost always my salad helper, jumped at the opportunity to at least make them look beautiful, sprinkling and placing things just so. Outside of this salad looking beautiful, though, strawberry, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar are a deliciously combination. In the summer it’s perfectly light, seasonal and a good blend of sweet and savory. I like to add pistachios, as you’ll see in the recipe below, but candied walnuts are equally amazing. If you’re looking for a fun and creative summer salad, you’ll probably love this.
This salad is both very flexible and simple to make. In the summer months I like to try to keep a bag or box of fresh baby spinach handy because it’s in season and I try to eat it a lot. I’ve added a few other things you can use for this salad if you have on hand that you want to use, or if you want to substitute the cucumbers for something else. For this salad, you’ll need:
Fresh baby spinach
Pistachios, candied walnuts, or pecans (optional)
Any additional spring/summer vegetables you prefer- Things that pair nicely are asparagus, peas, bell peppers, avocados, basil or mint
And for dressing the salad you’ll need:
Olive oil (a good quality one preferably)
Dried herbs, such as oregano or tarragon (optional)
Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad
For the Salad
- 1 Small box (5 oz) Fresh baby spinach
- 1 lb Strawberries, de-stemmed and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 Cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 Oz Chevre/Goat cheese
- 1/4 Cup Pistachios, roughly chopped (optional)
- Sea Salt (to taste)
For the Balsamic Dressing
- 1/2 Cup Olive oil
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tsp Honey or maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp Dried Tarragon, Basil, or Parsley
Make the balsamic dressing
- In a medium bowl whisk together the vinegar and dried herbs of choice. Allow them to sit for about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the oil, mustard and honey or maple syrup and whisk until it comes together and the oil and vinegar don't look "separated". Set aside until you're ready to use, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for later use.
Assemble the Salad
- Put all of the spinach in a large bowl.
- Evenly sprinkle the strawberries, cucumber slices and pistachios on top of the spinach.
- Dollop the goat cheese onto the salad using a spoon, in about teaspoon sized portions.
- Pour about 3-5 tablespoons of balsamic dressing on top of the salad and toss until everything is evenly coated.
- Serve evenly onto plates and sprinkle with sea salt just before serving.