As I was doing the bi-weekly torture that is grocery shopping, I was delighted to find the first shipment of strawberries—at least the first shipment at a reasonable price. Before I knew what was happening, a large box of strawberries found its way into my cart and refused to leave. Not far down the vegie aisle, I also discovered fresh parsley and cilantro—apparently a mistake. They too insisted on accompanying me on my travels.
For months, the best I could hope for in the way of herbs has been dried ginger roots and the occasional wilted tuft of cilantro. Fresh parsley has been the stuff of dreams. Not only was the cilantro and parsley fresh and tender, beads of moisture sparkling on the leaves, but tidily wrapped and carefully arranged. Heads will roll in the produce department for this break in standard procedure. I grabbed a bundle of each, watching furtively for the Produce Nazis to storm from the back of the store. Even the checkout lady stowed my treasures in a bag as quickly as she could, God bless her, before they were confiscated as contraband.
For the salad: Spinach, strawberries, fresh parsley, cilantro—A bit of feta cheese would have been nice, but I was so happy with the strawberries and fresh herbs, I forgot to get any. It is a good practice to add protein to the carbs—even though these are good carbs—to balance out the nutrients. You can add cheeses or sunflower seeds to accomplish that in this salad.
For the dressing: White wine vinegar, honey, fennel seed, poppy seed, pepper, olive oil, celery seed, salt
To rinse vegies and fruit from the store, soak in water with about a quarter cup of white vinegar. This helps get rid of any lingering bacteria that may have accumulated on the stuff as it was picked, shipped, and processed in the dingy backroom of the grocery store.
I am making this salad at the end of February so I don’t have a choice here in Missouri. My fresh spinach is just a dream—will be planting it in a couple of weeks as soon as the moon is waxing, but then it will take a good month before I can hope to pick it. I planted cilantro and parsley a week ago and am anxiously watching my planter for signs of life.
I don’t recommend dried parsley or cilantro, though, in a pinch, I suppose it would be better than nothing.
I used a good handful of curly parsley, chopped with my hand-dandy herb chopper. I like cilantro, so I use about half a handful of that, but it will make it pretty cilantro-ey so if you don’t like cilantro, use less or leave it out altogether. You can add just a little mint if you prefer with or without the cilantro.
Drain and tear the spinach into pieces. Slice the strawberries. Chop the cilantro and parsley. Toss them all together.
Start with a half cup of white wine vinegar, a quarter cup of olive oil, two tablespoons of honey. Add spices to taste—you can see the proportions I used in this bowl–about a tsp of each. Mix and let sit for at least half an hour. Don’t refrigerate—let the flavors mix at room temperature. Add more of everything, depending on preference. A little more honey is nice. This dressing would be good with fruit salad, too.
For this salad, I prefer to add the dressing at serving time. The thing about homemade dressing—besides the fact that it contains no preservatives or sugar—is that it won’t be mixed as well as the processed dressings. I put it out in the bowl in which I mix it with a small ladle. You can stir and dip to get a good portion of all the goodies.
I am woefully short on funds, so Laphroaig was not on my shopping list this week. I admit I had to fight the wheel to keep my car from automatically turning into the parking lot of the friendly liquor store where bottles of the stuff sit on the shelf pining for me. Instead, I made do with a snifter of Crown Royal—yes, yes, I know. It’s Canadian but at least they spell whisky right. Plus you get a nifty little blue bag—where I will put my marbles if ever I find them again.
May all of your herbs be fresh and all of your strawberries sweet, and may the Produce Nazis lose your trail in the snow.