Strawberry Salad

Delicious with raspberries too, this salad is a great combination of flavors, colors and textures.

Delicious with raspberries too, this salad is a great combination of flavors, colors and textures.

Recently, I was cooking for a friend’s birthday and she requested a salad with berries. With my farmer’s market filled with local strawberries, my fondness for arugula and my belief that everything-is-better-with-avocado, this salad was a no brainer. I added some walnuts for crunch, some sheep’s milk cheese for salty-umaminess and a lemony-sherry dressing. Birthday worthy.

Strawberry and Arugula Salad

Makes four small salads or two large salads

For the dressing:

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon mince shallot

1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

4 cups baby arugula, washed and dried

1 cup strawberries, stems removed and cut into bite-size pieces

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into slices

¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I like to toast them for a better texture)

¼ cup grated pecorino or manchego cheese

1) Prepare the vinaigrette: Combine the mustard, shallot, vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while whisking to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

2) Combine the arugula, strawberries, avocado and nuts in a bowl. Add the vinaigrette to taste, salt and pepper and toss. Divide the salad among the plates and garnish each with the cheese.



Last Call

bread salad

It’s still summer. For a few more days. Enjoy it.

Despite the cooler nights and halloween candy displays, my calendar says it’s still summer and my farmer’s market is still packed with summer produce. To celebrate summer one last time, this week I dmade a Mexican-esque Panzanella salad, with toasted bread, grilled corn, tomatoes, queso fresco and cilantro. I used a great sourdough bread, whose tang provided a great contrast to the explosive sweetness of the tomatoes and corn.

Late Summer Bread Salad

You can use any bread you like for this salad. Actually, its a great use for stale bread since the vinaigrette will soften it when everything is tossed together.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 cups rustic, crusty bread or multigrain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 ears corn, kernels removed and cooked (*see note below)

1-1/2 cups ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

¼ cup finely diced red onion

1-2 tablespoons hot chile (I used a Serrano), finely chopped

½ cup Queso Fresco or Feta cheese

1 tablespoon honey

¼ cup lime juice

½ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 handfuls of young arugula, or other spicy green

¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro or basil

  1. Spread the bread cubes in one even layer on a sheet tray. Toast the bread in a 300F for 10-15 minutes, or until the cubes are dry and lightly brown around the edges. Stale bread will probably take less time. Cool.
  2. Combine the cooled bread cubes in a bowl with the corn, tomatoes, red onion, chile and  cheese. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl blend the honey and lime juice. Slowly add the oil, while whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. About 15-30 minutes before serving, toss the salad with enough of the vinaigrette to moisten the bread cubes, but not make them soggy. Just before serving, mix in the arugula and herb. Taste and adjust seasoning.

*Note on cooking corn: I grilled mine on the cob, then cut the kernels off. I was grilling anyway and this made it easy and gave the corn a touch of smoke. Next time, if I don’t have a grill, I’ll probably blanch or saute the kernels off the cob.

A Farewell to Summer

Watermelon and Arugula Salad–one of my favorite ways to enjoy the last summer flavors.

As much as I love the fall produce that’s beginning to show up in the market, I usually spend most of September trying to enjoy the last of my summer favorites. Among the new apples, pumpkins and brussel sprouts, my farmer’s market still has plenty of tomatoes, corn string beans and chile peppers. Last Saturday, I was told it would be the last week for watermelons. I couldn’t resist; tonight I used some in a salad, mixed with arugula, red onion, feta cheese and chiles. I love the balance of  fresh, crunchy, sweet watermelon, with the salty feta and spicy arugula. I used a jalapeno this time in the vinaigrette but any spicy chile would be great– I’ve used serranos and habeneros in the past.

Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad with Jalapeno-Herb Vinaigrette

 Makes 4 servings

For the salad:

            3 cups baby arugula, washed and dried

            1 cup feta, crumbled

            2 cups watermelon, cubed or cut with a melon baller

            1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

            1/4 cup toasted walnuts or pinenuts

For the vinaigrette:

            2 teaspoons honey

            1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

            1 tablespoon lime juice

            6 tablespoons olive oil

            salt and pepper to taste

            1 tablespoon minced jalapeno

            1 tablespoon basil or mint chiffonade

1. For the salad: Combine the arugula, feta, watermelon and red onion in a bowl. Add enough vinaigrette to coat the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Divide the salad between the four plates and sprinkle with the nuts to garnish.

2. For the vinaigrette: Place the honey, vinegar and lime juice in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper and stir in jalapeno and basil or mint.