One of the best things about summer is cooking with fresh, local produce. All winter, I make do with vegetables and fruit that have traveled from afar – losing most of their flavor along the way. Come July, however, an array of brightly-colored and flavored offerings are available, the strawberry being one of my favorites. Fresh local strawberries can be found at Chaudoir’s Strawberry Farm in Sturgeon Bay where you can pick your own or call ahead for quarts ready and waiting. Or visit one of the many local farm markets.
I first experienced the following salad at a bridal shower a few years ago. It was brought by “Helen,” a friend of the bride’s mom. Every woman in attendance raved about the sweet and salty dressing and the bowl was soon picked cleaned. The recipe was shared and ever since this has been a staple on my summer cookout menu.
Helen’s Spinach-Strawberry Toss
1 pound fresh baby spinach, cleaned and de-stemmed
1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
1 Tbsp light vegetable oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Sauté oil, sugar and almonds, stirring often, until almonds are browned. Set aside to cool.
Combine spinach, strawberries and almonds in a large bowl and toss with dressing just before serving.
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup light vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp minced red onion
1 tsp dry mustard
Mix above ingredients in blender. Then stir in 1 Tbsp poppy seeds. Dressing can be made in advance and refrigerated. Shake to re-blend before serving.