The strawberry salad, it came to me in a dream….
No, really. It did. I dream about a lot of different things—floods, tornadoes, television producers who won’t listen to my ideas about must-have changes in a script despite having demanded that I write the changes (for real—it was the same dream where I was attempting to churn out photographs that were worthy of Annie Lebowitz…seriously), but I very rarely dream about food. What prompted this particular thought, I’ll never know. I do know that I woke up with an overwhelming desire to try to recreate what I thought I had created in my dream, which is how I found myself eating it for breakfast that morning.
Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
For the Salad-
2 cups mixed greens
1 cup strawberries (double handful)
3 thick slices fresh mozzarella
1 basil leaf (optional)
1 oregano leaf (optional)
2 slices multi-grain bread
½ Tbsp butter
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
For the Strawberry Vinaigrette–
½ tsp seedless strawberry jam
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Bare pinch of sugar
Such a simple little salad, really.
Rinse and dry your greens. I don’t have a nifty little salad spinner, so I use a small colanderto rinse them. Then I wrap the greens up in a large paper towel and gently shake them. Don’t let go of the paper towel, though. You’ll have salad all over your floor. Or I’m guessing you would. That’s right. I’m guessing that would happen. Yes.
Put the rinsed and dried greens in a large bowl. I use my 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup for everything. One of my best buys ever, and they didn’t pay me to say that.
Rinse the strawberries.
Dry them gently.
Then hull them. No strawberry huller needed since a sharp knife will do the trick– or even a cheap dull one for that matter. Grasp the berry by the stem,
and slice off the green/ white part. I missed. It was the result of taking a photo while cutting with a knife. Let’s pretend I have skills, shall we?
Then carefully carve out the interior. Do you need to hull them? Probably not. I find it therapeutic. Know what isn’t? Spelling the word therapeutic.
After the berries are hulled, slice them tip to top, then in half– also tip to top.
As I worked, I tossed them in a ramekin. Sometimes I’m neat like that. Sometimes.
Toss the berries on top of the mixed greens.
I have no idea how many ounces of mozzarella this is. I can tell you these slices were about 2 1/2 inches across.
I diced them into 1/2 inch cubes.
Then I tossed them on top of the strawberries.
Then I took two slices of bakery multi-grain bread– I used Publix brand, but I’d guess anything would do. These were a bit stale– the casualties of a recent grocery store trip, hidden away in the pantry bread bin beneath newer, fresher bread.
I sliced them up in one direction,
and then did it again in the other. These cubes are about the same size as the mozzarella.
Then I took a hunk of butter– actually a lot less butter than shown here because once it started to melt I realized that was way too much butter and fished out the unmelted chunk with a paper towel.
Wow. You can also really see how the clouds were playing a serious game of hide and seek with the sunshine this day. Cloudy, bright. Cloudy, bright.
If you look closely at the stove knob, you can see it was set to slightly below medium heat.
Once melted, I tossed in the bread cubes,
stirring them around until they were all coated in butter.
Then I let them get nice and toasty. Okay…so some of them burned. We’ll call those extra toasty.
These guys– last minute addition. Once leaf of basil and one leaf of oregano fresh from my window box.
Chiffonade. Sort of.
Toss the herbs on top of the mozzarella, and then
sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, and finally
throw in the toasted bread cubes.
Give it all a toss.
A larger bowl really would have been better. But…but…I love my measuring cup.
Now for the vinaigrette. Okay. I feel the need to tell you that if I were to do this again, I would not make this vinaigrette again. It was okay, but I think it could be much, much better. Maybe a different oil. I’ll tell you how I did it, though, since you may be better at vinaigrettes than I am.
Oh, and you can see the butter that I removed from the skillet– it’s to the left of the olive oil bottle, sitting on the paper towel.
1/2 teaspoon of strawberry jam went into…what’s this?…another measuring cup. I know it says 1/4 teaspoon, but I decided that wasn’t enough and added another quarter.
Then I poured in about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. I’ve read that vinaigrettes usually are 3:1 oil to vinegar, so that’s what I went with. It felt like a lot, but I am not a bastion of vinaigrette experience.
Then a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Again…I don’t know about this choice, and it could have been a quality issue. Not made of big bucks in my house, so no $30 bottles of vinegar found in this kitchen.
Little bit of salt. Little bit of pepper.
Mmmm. Oil and vinegar.
Time to mix it up, and give it a taste. Too acidic. Too much.
Ooh. Add a pinch of sugar, and mix it up again.
Much better, and it thickens up nicely when you mix it enough.
Drizzle a little vinaigrette over the salad,
and eat it up.
What would I do differently? Well, for starters, I’d use a different mix of greens. This one had a red leaf lettuce in it that I found very bitter. I’d also work on that vinaigrette.
Overall, though, an opportunity to eat strawberries, crispy buttery bread, and mozzarella…yeah, not likely to turn that down.
Yield: 2-4 servings