It is spring and for me one of the best parts of spring is fresh strawberries. Growing up in Maine, strawberries were in season in June. Picking our own berries at local farms was an annual ritual and it was always a race to see who could fill the most baskets the fastest. For the next few days strawberries were a part of every meal. They topped our breakfast cereals, were stuffed into pancakes, pureed into milkshakes, turned into strawberry shortcake and eaten as is. Leftover strawberries were turned into strawberry jam or frozen whole for a later use. A favorite after school snack was a bowl of frozen strawberries covered with milk.
Here in Albanian strawberries are in season now. I still love to eat them as is or on top of flaky shortcakes but as usual I’m always looking for new uses for an old standby. My latest creation is a salad topped with fresh strawberries. It is so simple but when you combine the berries with goat cheese and reduced balsamic vinegar and put it on top of a bed of greens, you have a delicious spring salad. When selecting a balsamic vinegar, buy the best kind you can find. I love the vinegar from Modena, Italy. They are tangy yet mellow and when reduced produce a sweet syrup with sharp undertones that make a perfect dressing on their own.
ARUGULA & STRAWBERRY SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE AND REDUCED BALSAMIC
1 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups arugula
3 cups lettuce, chopped
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup soft goat cheese, cut into cubes
- Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce allowing the mixture to continue to simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook until the volume has reduced by one half.
- Divide the arugula and lettuce into four individual salad plates or bowls.
- Divide the strawberries and goat cheese amongst the salad plates.
- Drizzle the reduced balsamic over the salads and serve immediately. Alternatively you can serve the dressing on the side and allow diners to add as much or as little dressing as they like.