LEAH’S STRAWBERRY SALAD

strawberry salad

I was so nervous to meet Leah. She was the “best friend who came before” of my closest graduate school friend, Arianne. You’ve been there, right? There’s a new awesome person in your life and now, someone from their “old life” is coming into town to visit? They’ve got more history with your new awesome person than you do—a decade’s worth or more of memories, incriminating stories, photographs of old haircuts, mix tapes, the works. Not to mention, I had heard a million stories about Leah—she was confident, fearless, a foodie, a talented seamstress, and a firefighter to boot. Like, the kind that flies around in helicopters fighting forest fires.

You could say I was a little intimidated.

Of course, I shouldn’t have been worried. Although Leah’s list of dazzling attributes only grew after meeting her in person, among those attributes is “totally approachable.” The three of us had a blast together laughing, cooking, dancing, talking–plenty of friendship & good feeling to go around. And I learned another important thing about Leah: if she were a character in a Homeric epic, “maker of beautiful salads” would be her epithet:

(I'm afraid it's not a fancy Sonya picture; I took this one myself!)

(I'm afraid it's not a fancy Sonya picture; I took this one myself!)

While I’m good at making things yummy, I’m not always good at making them look pretty. Leah is one of those people who seems to do both effortlessly, and I strive to be like her someday. That’s why this salad is dedicated to her, to Arianne, and to those lovely occasions where your new friends and old friends get along swell.

LEAH’S STRAWBERRY SALAD strawberry salad 2
adapted from Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook
serves 4

This salad is elegant and lovely, even if you can’t make it into a work of art! A great choice for summer, as it pairs perfectly with grilled meat. In the winter, I swap cranberries & Bosc pairs for the strawberries and use a store-bought, fig-flavored balsamic for the dressing.

In the summer, the “trick” is that you infuse your own balsamic using a few strawberries to impart flavor. Do this step as far ahead of time as you can and throw the rest of the salad together just before serving.

Now, blue cheese may make some of you nervous; I know it’s not for everyone. If you absolutely can’t stomach it, substitute crumbled feta or small cubes of a really sharp cheddar. You really want a strong cheese to stand up to the sweetness of the berries & the tartness of the balsamic.

for the salad:

1 bunch spinach or lettuce, washed, dried, & torn into small pieces
1 pint strawberries (approx. 12-15), sliced
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled (less or more if you like)
½ cup candied pecans, chopped (substitute plain or toasted pecans)

Prepare the vinaigrette before assembling salad:

4 T balsamic vinegar (good quality)
2-3 strawberries
¼- ½ cup olive oil, depending on how oily you like your dressing
salt & pepper
macerating strawberries
Remove green tops from the strawberries and chop them roughly. Place into a small bowl along with the balsamic. Press down with a fork or the back of the spoon to help release the strawberry flavor. Let the mixture sit, on room temperature, for at least an hour.

Assemble the salad. When ready to serve, carefully discard strawberries from balsamic mixture (if you’re willing to invest in a bit more effort, you can blend the berries and balsamic together). Drizzle olive oil in slowly while whisking (or blending) constantly. Add salt & pepper to taste; whisk to combine. Dress the salad and enjoy!

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13 responses to “LEAH’S STRAWBERRY SALAD

  1. Mmmm, this looks fantastic! I love strawberries in salad. 🙂

  2. That sounds just delicious. I love strawberries in salad, and the balsamic and blue cheese sound perfect. Have to try this!

    • bluejeangourmet

      Sara & Lisa, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I love finding new blogs to read, too!

  3. I love your stawberry salad very easy to make! WOW !!!
    Thank’s

  4. I like that you steep the strawberries in the balsamic vinegar.

  5. Yumm! I like strawberries with balsamic vinegar every since Jamie Oliver showed me the combo. That salad looks lovely and healthy!

  6. I love the taste of balsamic and strawberries together – perfect warm weather fare.

  7. nick dennenberg

    hi ms. mehra. we are learning about blogs. i will have to try your recipe

  8. Hey Ms. Mehra!! We are looking at your blog in tech — it’s awesome!! I didn’t know you liked cooking/baking… I love to cook and bake! All the food looks REALLY good!! Are you going to make something from your blog for us to enjoy on review days? 🙂

  9. Hey Ms. Mehra! This is Samantha A. Everyone is looking at your blog in Tech class. It is so amazing and all of the food looks so good! Im going to go home tonight and tell my mom to look on your blog for dinner ideas!
    Are you going to make us something from your blog for review days? 🙂

  10. Hi Ms. Mehra, in tech we are learning about blogs. I saw yours and it was extremely mouth watering.

  11. this is delicious…i definitely used feta instead of bleu cheese (i’ve tried again and again but bleu cheese just doesn’t do it for me)…

    btw, do you happen to also have a recipe for the second picture salad (the one with the avocado slices)…that looks very yummy as well!

  12. ari zwartjes

    awww, the bag of woody-dog food in the background, behind the avocado salad….our florita house!

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