This is hands down my favorite spring salad of all time, like sunshine on a plate. I love the whisper of basil paired with strawberries and the tang of vinaigrette. The creamy goat cheese and crunchy candied almonds are such a treat, almost like sneaking dessert. Not today, but I often added grilled chicken or shrimp to make an entree salad.
Recipes shared with friends are so treasured. With food, I enjoy the story almost as much as the taste. My dear friend Peg shared this recipe with me years ago. Every time I make the salad it evokes all these memories of the adventures, escapades and antics we’ve shared together over the years. I first met Peg when we both had little, bitty infants and toddlers underfoot. I felt like I was swimming through mud at the time trying to figure out exactly how to do this thing called life with kids. My Mo-Jo was a little off if you know what I mean. Peg was a breath of fresh air, we became instant, fast friends and now I had a comrade for the journey. It’s gone way too fast, the kids are all almost off to college now. What will our next adventures be? I can’t wait to see.
Strawberry Basil Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 head Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and chopped
1 pint strawberries, tops removed and sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
5-6 large fresh basil leafs, chiffonade (I’ll show you how)
6 oz fresh crumbled goat cheese (blue cheese works wonderful too)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (white wine vinegar can be substituted)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sugar
Layer the salad ingredients (lettuce, chopped celery, basil chiffonade, sliced strawberries, chopped green onions and goat cheese) on a platter. This is the basil chiffonade. Literally translated, chiffonade means “made of rags”. In cooking it refers to thin strips or shreds of lettuce or fresh herbs. I rolled the 5-6 fresh basil leaves up together so they looked like a cigar or log roll. Then I took a sharp knife and cut the roll horizontally to create the thin strips. For this salad, I love to cut the Romaine lettuce the same way.
To make the candied almonds heat 1/4 cup sugar in a small non stick skillet over low heat until sugar begins to melt. (I am making a double batch here so the picture actually shows 1/2 cup sugar melting) This will take a minute or two but watch it carefully.