This Strawberry Spinach Salad is magical! A Louisiana Chef recipe, this surprising combination of ingredients works beautifully: spinach, strawberries, candied pecans, blue cheese and a gorgeous Strawberry Balsamic Dressing.
My taste testers loved this and I am officially obsessed!
This salad is an absolute stunner. Visually and taste.
Strawberry and balsamic is a combination I discovered last year. Like tomato and basil, it just works. Sweetened balsamic, that is. Plain balsamic vinegar is too harsh.
Bringing that flavour combination into a salad is incredible. I was researching online for Cajun / Creole salads to complete my 2016 Thanksgiving Feast. I actually had to browse quite a bit, reading up on classic Cajun menus, even checking out some restaurant menus.
I really love doing this – exploring the internet’s hidden corners for treasures. As I hunted around, I chanced upon this recipe on a blog called Around Anna’s Table. Actually, I found the recipe name on a website called Gumbo Pages but couldn’t find the recipe so went hunting for one.
This is not a salad I would have come up on my own, it’s definitely a Cheff-y recipe. And that’s exactly what this is – it’s a recipe by Chef Varnedoe of Baton Rouge’s Restaurant IPO (now closed 🙁 ) which was published in [url:2]Louisiana Kitchen & Culture magazine[/url].
The Strawberry Balsamic Dressing itself is absolutely gorgeous. The sweet fragrance of strawberries, tartness of balsamic transformed into a salad dressing. It’s got that sweet-salty-tart-fresh thing happening. I really like it. I made it 3 times in the space of a fortnight and used it on many salads!
When the Strawberry Balsamic Dressing is combined with delicate baby spinach, fresh juicy strawberries, creamy salty pops of blue cheese and the sweet crunch of candied pecans, and you have a truly fabulous salad. My taste testers LOVED this!
This Strawberry Salad is part of my 2016 Thanksgiving Menu. As you may have guessed, this years’ menu is Cajun themed and the star of it is a genius reader recipe: a one roasting pan Cajun Baked Turkey Breast and Dressing / Stuffing recipe. The full menu is outlined in the Turkey recipe. 🙂
Normally I am very flexible about substitutions in recipes. This is one of the few exceptions. I made this Strawberry Salad last weekend for friends, switching the blue cheese for goats cheese and without using candied pecans. While they said they liked it, they didn’t rave about it like my Thanksgiving Menu Taste Testers.
I began to doubt myself so I made it again yesterday, exactly as the recipe is written. It is stellar. The blue cheese can’t be substituted or omitted and the sweetness of the candied pecans is essential for the complete experience!!! – Nagi x
Louisiana Strawberry Spinach Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
Strawberry Balsamic Dressing (makes ~1 3/4 cups)
- 250 g / 8 oz fresh strawberries , tops cut off
- 3/4 cups balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 tbsp brown sugar , packed (light brown)
- 2 tbsp strawberry jam or preserves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup pecans (mostly whole, can chop some)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar (any)
- 2 tbsp / 30 g butter
- 4 cups baby spinach , packed
- 16 (250 g / 8 oz) large strawberries , sliced
- 75 - 100 g / 2 - 3.5 oz blue cheese , crumbled (to taste)
- Salt and pepper
- Whizz Dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Strain if desired (to remove little strawberry seeds). Keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
- Pecans: Line a tray with parchment / baking paper. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add pecans, toss to coat. Add sugar and stir for 5 minutes. The sugar will melt and coat the pecans. Pour onto tray, spread out, allow to cool - it will harden.
- To serve, place the spinach and half the strawberries in a bowl and drizzle over a bit of Dressing. Toss gently, then transfer to a serving bowl. Top with remaining strawberries, then drizzle with more Dressing. Crumble over blue cheese and scatter with pecans. Serve immediately, with remaining Dressing on the side!
LIFE OF DOZER
Seriously. This dog is interested in ANYTHING edible. (And many things that are not!)