The Stock Pot: Sensational Sides – Strawberry Fields Salad with Gorgonzola and Sweet and Spicy Rosemary Pecans
There are a few precious weeks when locally-grown strawberries make their much-anticipated spring debut at the farmer’s market and I could practically live on them in that fleeting period. This incredible salad is one of my favorite ways to showcase their juicy sweetness. There’s just something so completely magical about the dynamite combination of ripe, juicy berries, pungent blue cheese, cool, crisp lettuces and spicy candied nuts all lightly cloaked in a deep, rich balsamic vinaigrette. To me, it’s salad perfection in a single bite. Oh, to have strawberry fields forever.
- For the Sweet and Spicy Rosemary Pecans:
- ½ cup pecan halves
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- kosher salt
- dash cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- For the vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 to 3 tablespoons honey
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the salad:
- 8 cups mixed salad greens, like mesclun, spinach, raddichio, sweet lettuces and arugula
- 1 pound ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 4 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
- Make the pecans: Combine the pecans, brown sugar and water in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Season with a little salt and a dash of cayenne. Cook for several minutes until the sugar has melted and is a little syrupy and the nuts have toasted, stirring frequently. Stir in the rosemary and allow the nuts to cool. Coarsely chop and set aside.
- In a small canning jar, combine all the vinaigrette ingredients; screw on the lid and shake vigorously to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Toss the greens, strawberries and Gorgonzola in a large bowl; season with a little salt and pepper; shake the jar of dressing again and drizzle in as much of the dressing as you like; toss well. Sprinkle over the nuts and serve.
Planning: Store any leftover vinaigrette in the refrigerator for several days. To prepare your strawberries, wash and dry them. Pull off the leaves; using the tip of your paring knife, cut a cone-shaped wedge around the top of the berry to remove the stem and core.
Product Purity: Named for a town outside Milan where this cow’s-milk cheese was originally made, Gorgonzola is a rich and creamy blue cheese – truly one of Italy’s great cheeses. Since pre-crumbled cheeses tend to be dry and bland, buy it in block form and crumble it right before serving for the freshest flavor.
Presentation: I always hold back a few of each of the ingredients to place on top of the salad so all the elements are visible. It just looks prettier!
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