This is strawberry season in most of the country right now. Here in Florida our season starts in February and we have strawberry festivals in different towns to celebrate the crops. When the berries are in season they are very affordable and yummy. They are extremely good for you which is why you find them included in many restrictive diets. I have so many recipes for strawberries that I am going to spend the next few days posting them. Many of them I have had for a very long time, so I thought the best place to start was with salads. Our First Lady Michelle Obama has been on a campaign to get us to eat more nutritious foods. She has a garden at the White house and I don’t think anyone has had a garden there since the 19th century. I know that Mrs Harding burnt her husbands papers in the trash barrel behind the Whitehouse the day President Harding died. She wanted to hide his involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal. That is about all I know about the back yard of the Whitehouse until our current first lady’s garden.
This first salad was a hit with a group of teachers who used a caterer for their special events and dinners. They fell in love with it but the caterer would not give them the recipe to the salad dressing. I am friends with some of the teachers in a quilt group and one of them served the salad at a pot luck we were having. She would buy the dressing from the caterer for $5 in a pint jar. She is on a restrictive diet and this was a special treat for her. I tasted it and knew right away that I had the recipe for it. The caterer had them all believing that this was her own secrete recipe and it was hard to make. It originally came from a magazine years ago. I waited to surprise her at the next pot luck with the salad and gave everyone the recipe for the dressing. They still use the caterer because she is good. I like this salad made with tender mild greens. Make the dressing ahead and have a salad as a snack. The second salad is more savory with a hint of chili powder in it but still sweet and sour.
Strawberry and Greens Salad (serves 4 side dishes)
4 cups of fresh greens
1 1/2 cups of sliced strawberries
1/2 sweet onion sliced in very thin rings
1/4 cup of toasted nuts like walnuts or pecans
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
This is a cooked dressing that will keep in the refrigerator for weeks in a tight jar.
1/4 cup of sugar or equivalent sugar substitute
1/4 cup of cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of dried mustard ground
1/4 teaspoon of salt a little can be added later to the salad if wanted
1/4 cup of salad oil
1/2 teaspoon of poppy seeds
In a small pan over medium heat cook sugar, vinegar, salt and mustard until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a blender or use a electric mixer to add oil in a small steady stream. Then gently stir in poppy seed. This can be poured into a serving jar to chill before adding to the salad before serving. It can then be shook before serving after it has been stored.
Strawberry Chicken Salad with Warm Dressing (makes 2 servings)
You start this salad with the same combination of strawberries, nuts, onions and heartier greens as well as tender greens. Chicken can be leftovers or a boneless breast that has been cooked before making the salad. The dressing is added to the salad warm and will wilt the tender greens. It is a great lunch meal or evening meal on a hot day served with rolls the citrus dressing is a Florida favorite.
3 cups of assorted greens
1 cup of strawberries sliced
2 thin slices of sweet onion or a chopped green onion
1/4 cup of pecans or walnuts toasted
1 to 2 cups of cubed chicken
1/2 cup of frozen peas thawed uncooked
Cooked Citrus Dressing
1/4 cup strawberries
2 tablespoons of orange juice
2 tablespoons of oil
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
Add all ingredients in a blender or use a hand blender. You can mash the berries if you don’t have either first and then whisk by hand until blended. In a small pan bring just to boiling and simmer for 5 min. stirring occasionally. Cover and keep warm until serving.
I hope you give these salads a try. I know you are going to be pleasantly surprised at them. If you are feeding a group or want to make a the dressings and store them just double the amount. The citrus one keeps for a couple of days refrigerated and can be warmed before serving.
TIP FOR STORING BERRIES…store them on layers of paper towels in a tight container for a couple of days. Wash just before serving so they don’t mold.