I love salads. Winter and the often sad produce that comes with it is around for a long time here in northwestern Ontario. Winter is long and our growing season is short, which I think makes me love salad and strawberries and all things summer just that much more.
This is one of my ‘go to’ salads and dressings. While I like to keep it simple, there are a few easy and tasty variations you can make by switching up either the nuts or the cheese or both. Pictured is with pecans and feta, but a soft goat cheese works delightfully well with strawberries, and almonds are a nice switch up for the pecans if you happen to have them on hand instead. For greens switch up spring mix for spinach or romaine or whatever mix of lettuce you happen to have growing in your garden or you picked up at the market.
If you feel like making this into a meal, the dressing pairs wonderfully well with chicken.
Time: 15 -20 minutes, depending mostly on how well you have to wash your greens
Serves: 4 as a large side 6-8 as a small side
You Will Need:
For the dressing
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup canola oil (or if you have a delightful nut oil like walnut or almond, use that!)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/8 tsp dry thyme, or it’s soooo much better with fresh if you have it (if you do, use closer to 1/4 tsp instead)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- few grinds of fresh black pepper
For the salad
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces OR slivered almonds
- about 6 oz spring mix or romaine
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup of crumbled feta OR goat cheese
- 1 english cucumber, thinly sliced
- about 1 lb strawberries washed, hulled and thinly sliced
Toast nuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Shake them up every few minutes. They should take about 7-12 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. Remove from heat when fragrant and browned – it will be a little harder to tell if the pecans are fully toasted than the almonds, but when you think they might be done, taste one 🙂 Set aside and let cool. Some people have success toasting nuts in the oven. I’ve almost always burnt at least some of them doing them that way, it’s much easier to keep an eye on them in the pan! Any leftover toasted nuts will keep room temperature in a container for at least a week.
Assemble ingredients for dressing. If you happen to have a delicious nut oil such as walnut or almond, this is a wonderful salad for it. If you are going to be using it, please taste it first to make sure it hasn’t spoiled as those nut oils don’t keep nearly as long as you want them to. Whisk dressing ingredients together. Taste dressing. If you prefer yours a little less acidic, add a bit more oil, whisk and taste again. If you like your dressing a little sweeter, add another 1/2 tbsp or so of maple syrup.
Wash and dry whatever greens you are using and assemble salad either into individual servings or into one large bowl. Depending on who you are feeding you may choose to leave the nuts on the side for people to add to their salad if they wish.