tchad and i went camping in acadia national park up in bar harbor, me last week. before we left, i thought it would be fun to do a little “tasty seasons goes camping” feature and dazzle you with all of the fun things you can cook over/in an open fire. if you google “camping food”, all sorts of nifty lists and ideas pop up with all sorts of clever things you can do to feed yourself under the stars.
alas, i have nothing to offer any of those lists. not one thing. as is often the case, the ‘fun idea in my head’ and the ‘what actually happened’ were… not the same. specifically, what happened is that we just kept opening package after package and adding boiling water to each one. sometimes, when we were really living on the edge, we’d boil a pouch in water instead of combining the contents of the pouch with the water. that was about as daring as it got though.
needless to say, by the time we got home, i was craving crunchy things and fresh vegetables. this strawberry salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette doesn’t have a lot of crunchy ingredients (i’ve been overdosing on crackers and crostini to address that issue) but it does have both a big pile of fresh greens AND… strawberries!
before we left to go camping, i was feeling bummed that i had slept too late on saturday morning and the farmers’ market was out of strawberries by the time i got there. it was still the very beginning of the strawberry season up here and there just weren’t that many strawberries to be had yet.
luckily, this past week i woke up much earlier (a week of following the sun’s schedule will do that to you) and it’s more in the peak of strawberry season so there were strawberries aplenty when i arrived at the market. i *may* have gone a little overboard in my excitement at finding them but i live by the principle that it’s difficult to have too many local strawberries in your kitchen in late june. so, while this salad is my *first* strawberry recipe of the season, it won’t be the last! stay tuned friends, stay tuned.
- 2 oz. (¼ cup / 59 ml) balsamic vinegar
- 2 oz. (¼ cup / 59 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 oz. (1/8 cup / 29 ml) real maple syrup, see notes
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 4 oz. (8 cups / 113 g.) spicy greens (see notes) or arugula
- 4 1/4 oz. (4 cups / 120 g.) strawberries, sliced
- 1 medium shallot, minced (about 1 oz. / 1/3 cup / 28 g.)
- 2 oz. (1/2 cup / 57 g.) pecans, toasted and roughly chopped (see notes)
- 2 oz. (1/4 cup / 57 g.) goat cheese, crumbled
- make the vinaigrette first so that the flavors can meld while you assemble the rest of the salad.
- combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until combined. set aside.
- put greens in a large bowl, give the vinaigrette one more shake, then pour the desired amount of vinaigrette over the greens – you will have extra vinaigrette (see notes). toss greens until they are evenly coated in dressing.
- divide greens among 4 bowls or plates. divide the remaining ingredients among the four salads and top the greens. serve immediately.
to toast the pecans: place the nuts in a small, heavy bottom skillet over medium or medium-low heat (no oil necessary). keep a close eye on them and stir them frequently because they will darken quickly once they start to turn color. since the nuts are already a dark brown, smell is the best indicator of when they are toasted. the nuts will continue to cook a little bit even once you remove them from the heat. take them off the burner and get them out of the hot pan as soon as they become aromatic. this should take around 5 minutes, but, again, keep an eye on them and if you smell them, immediately check on them, especially the bottoms.
the vinaigrette makes enough for about 12 salads but keeps well in the fridge and is versatile so you can use it on a variety of salads or as a marinade.
as aficionados of real maple syrup may already know, the old rating system was replaced with a new, more confusing system (of course). if you already have a bottle in your house and it’s labeled “grade b”, that’s perfect. if you go to the store to buy some, it will now be labeled as “grade a: dark color & robust flavor”. ::sigh: basically, just get the darkest real stuff you can find.
so, spicy greens. i kept seeing them at the farmers’ market and was scared to try them because bitter is my mortal enemy and greens can be bitter. i finally asked the friendly farmer about the greens and it turns out they are more like wasabi spicy than chili pepper spicy and they should definitely not be bitter. they are my new leafy green crush. if you can find them, check ‘em out, and if you can’t, arugula!
vinaigrette adapted from maple-balsamic vinaigrette on allrecipes.