Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strawberry, Feta & Spinach Salad with Balsamic Syrup Vinaigrette


What? You don't know what foobitties are? 

You say Strawberry, We say Foobitty.  That is, since our youngest son, who is now nine, renamed them in his early language years.

They are still the sweet, juicy, red nuggets of deliciousness that beg to be eaten before you leave the stand.  Since he was about two, we've been getting strawberries from the source.  Not a plastic box from the grocery store that has been shipped and gassed to ripen.

Straight from the land where they were grown is how my kids have learned to eat them.

In Texas, when my kids were little, we had the opportunity to pick the foobitties ourselves at Gnismer Farms and which always made for a fun afternoon... 

And sweet memories of my curly-headed blondie saying this series of statements--"These are so beautiful, Mommy!" "This is so fun!" “I found the biggest strawberry ever” (editing note: He had grown past his two year old "foobitty" stage at the time of these pictures, but we still call them foobitties at home.), "Mommy, when we get home I am going to make you a recipe with these."

Here, in California, since the kids are 6 years older now and in school, we don't get to spend afternoons picking them, but there are strawberries stands every few miles.

No, we don't live in Watsonville, where the commercial farms are growing perfectly sized, tasteless berries.  Ours is a small suburban farm with lots of hard-working families who do all the planting, tending and picking themselves.  We get to reap the true benefits of the sweetest, reddest, juiciest strawberries you can imagine.

Getting home with our half-flat of berries still intact (after being swarmed by two, now much bigger, boys' hands) is the biggest challenge with all the "manual labor" out of the equation.
I try my best to do something interesting with some of them, but most of the time they are either lunchbox snacks or stirred into yogurt and granola parfaits.

When I do get my hands on some, a strawberry and spinach salad is one of my very favorite ways to enjoy these sweet treats in a savory way.

Strawberry, Feta and Spinach Salad with Balsamic Syrup Vinaigrette
If you have the luxury of having a high end, well-aged balsamic vinegar, you can use it without reducing (please don't reduce it!! in fact!) and you can try this, too!

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 pint strawberries
 6 cups of spinach
1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions or spring onions
1/4 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted

In a small pan, cook vinegar over medium low heat until reduced to 1/4 cup ('ve just made Balsamic Syrup).  Whisk in olive oil, salt and pepper and let cool.

Slice strawberries and place in a large serving bowl.  Top with spinach, cheese, scallions and nuts. 

Just before serving, drizzle with dressing and toss gently to avoid crushing berries. Serve immediately.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

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