Late winter strawberries from Florida are popping up in my local grocery stores. The berries are deep red all the way to the stem without that tell tale I’m flavorless white halo. They are juicy, fragrant and sweet. I love strawberries and when dipped in chocolate my soul sings. I hope and pray strawberries are in heaven, especially chocolate dipped ones, dark chocolate that is. The berries made it into my cart for their extreme makeover. Given their high price, these berries are very special and therefore must be used in a meaningful way. It must be significant, joyful- an ambrosia of all strawberriness.
I thought back to my NC days and my romps to distant white sandy soiled strawberry farms, beyond the drop zones of Fort Bragg. I picked berries from the plant’s long runners until my fingers were stained by their sweet juices, my knees sandy, and my neck hot and pinking from the late Spring sun. I had to work quickly once I got the berries home, a day or two later the little guys would be bruised and smelling quite, hmm, fermenty. I preserved, froze, dried, and pureed every last one. I transformed the over ripe babies into strawberry vinegar, a sweet and pungent syrup used for salad. And of course the most beautiful were saved for the chocolate bath. But over the years I have narrowed my strawberry repertoire to a few select recipes, the crème de la crème of strawberry goodness. The chocolate covered ranks as number one and will never lose that ranking. The second in command is….
Strawberry Salad with Pink Lady Poppy Seed Dressing
1/3 c. white balsamic vinegar
1 c. canola oil
3 T. finely chopped red onion
1 t. dry mustard powder
1 t. salt
1/3 cup sugar
one strawberry, hulled
1 T. poppy seed
In a blender, blend all ingredients except the poppy seed. Once blended, pour dressing into a jar and add poppy seed, cover and shake well.
For the Salad:
Toss together one cup sliced strawberries with 2 cups baby spinach and 2 cups lamb’s lettuce. This salad is good just like this or you may further embellish with sugared nuts, chopped red onion, and celery. Adjust amounts according to how many you are feeding. There will be plenty of dressing that will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.
Lamb’s lettuce, field salad, or feldsalat are dainty, small round-leaf clusters, mild in taste. Be sure to remove any roots that remain attached, no danger, just looks better. Using feldsalat is a memento from a cooking class I took in Germany and I was happy to make it’s discovery over here in Trader Joe’s.