Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Soooo, it’s hot.  There is no central AC in our house.  I have very few complaints about our lovely home, but the lack of central AC is one of them.  Yeah yeah, I’m a whiny baby, I know.  But I will not apologize for hating being hot and sweaty.  If you know me, you know that combo equals cranky, and man I’m a pill when I’m cranky.

That wordy intro was an explanation as to why there is not a whole lot of cooking happening in casa Cheater Bites.  When it’s already 85+ degrees in my kitchen, there is no way – let me repeat NO WAY – I will be turning on my oven.  Thankfully we now have a super awesome grill that even has a side burner where I can saute.

These days, I am constantly looking for inspiration and recipes for the grill or that do not involve any cooking.  I gravitate toward much lighter fare in the summer to begin with, so this isn’t too much of a switch from the usual, central AC summers of years past.  I love salads and have been making them quite a bit lately.  I normally just throw whatever I have laying around in a big bowl and toss with whatever dressing I have premade or store bought.  It gets a little boring, and sometimes I get stuck in a salad rut.

I recently was in a serious salad rut.  I could not put ranch dressing on one more vegetable.  Luckily I had the makings of this little gem of a salad to pull me from the rut.  I’m a fan.

you will need:
1 bag spinach
½ of a small red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped pecans (candied if you like)
½ cup strawberries, thinly sliced
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
balsamic reduction
olive oil
freshly ground pepper to taste

If you would like to candy your pecans, toss the chopped nuts with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and 2 teaspoons of sugar; place on a baking sheet in a 350° oven for about 7 minutes until crunchy, then let cool.  Make the balsamic reduction, or use leftover like I did. Whisk the cooled balsamic reduction with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Taste and adjust the oil, salt & pepper levels to your liking.

Rinse and dry the spinach and set aside. Slice the onion and strawberries.  Either in a large bowl or individual serving bowls, place a mound of spinach.  Add the onion, strawberries and nuts.  Sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese and drizzle with the dressing.  Add a bit of freshly ground pepper and give it a little toss.  Serve with extra dressing to drizzle, it’s delish!

serves: 4
time: 15-20 minutes
source: CB original

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