Spinach And Strawberry Salad
It's funny how fruits and vegetables that grow in the same season often complement each other in recipes as well. Even as unlikely a pair as spinach and strawberries.
The strawberries in my garden start to come on just as the spinach is at its peak so this fresh spinach salad with sliced strawberries and homemade strawberry vinaigrette is a regular meal in late spring.
Both spinach and strawberries are suitable for container gardening, so you can make this recipe with homegrown ingredients even if you don't have a lot space.
Spinach is suited for both the Spring and Fall garden. Plant potted plants 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in spring and again 6 to 8 weeks before the first autumn frost. Fertilize when the plants are about 4 inches tall. Spinach needs very fertile, nitrogen-rich soil to encourage rapid growth and tender leaves. Once the days get long and warm it will bolt, meaning that it grows tall, blooms and becomes bitter tasting.
A rapid grower, spinach is ready to harvest in 38 to 40 days. Young, tender plants are the best. Cut the stalk just beneath the soil surface.
You can plant strawberries in spring as soon as the soil is workable or in the fall. If a spring frost is predicted protect the flowers with a layer of wheat straw, pine needles or a frost blanket. Plant strawberries high with the base of the bud union at soil level and the soil just covering the roots. The soil should be well-drained, humus rich with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
Apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer when establishing new beds at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. Work this into the soil before planting. Feed again in late summer or early fall being careful to keep the fertilizer off of the foliage. Do not over fertilize as this leads to excessive leaf production, reduced fruiting, and vulnerability to disease.
Strawberries planted in spring will begin to ripen 60 to 70 days after planting. Fall planted strawberries begin producing in late spring or early summer. Wait to pick until they are uniformly red. Once off the vine they will continue to turn red, but stop sweetening. Pinch them from their stems; don't pull. They should come off easily if they are fully ripe.
Toss all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Place the vinegar, honey and strawberries in a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking as you go.
Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can make a meal out of this salad by adding roasted chicken.
Time to prepare: 15 minutes.