This is strawberry season in most of the country right now. Here in Florida our season starts in February and we have strawberry festivals in different towns to celebrate the crops. When the berries are in season they are very affordable and yummy. They are extremely good for you which is why you find them included in many restrictive diets. I have so many recipes for strawberries that I am going to spend the next few days posting them. Many of them I have had for a very long time, so I thought the best place to start was with salads. Our First Lady Michelle Obama has been on a campaign to get us to eat more nutritious foods. She has a garden at the White House and I don’t think anyone has had a garden there since the 19th century. I know that Mrs Harding burnt her husbands papers in the trash barrel behind the White House the day President Harding died. She wanted to hide his involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal. That is about all I know about the back yard of the White House until our current first lady’s garden.
Our First Lady has chosen a very good and important cause by bringing up the fact that many poor urban areas and poor rural areas are food deserts. This has motivated community groups to find garden space and start co-opts to buy food in bulk. Rural areas have gardens but no supermarkets that are close so the people have to drive many miles to get to one. This is a real burden on the poor so they buy mostly from convenience stores that are close. I live in a poor urban area but it is far from being a food desert. There are still good markets here but other retailers have moved out to the suburbs in the past 10 years chasing the housing boom. That makes me and my neighbors very lucky in this current economic climate. I am also very experienced in stretching my food dollars and have collected recipes to make my meal planning easier and good. I have chosen salads in honor of our First Lady’s campaign for good nutrition.
I like to make my salads with a variety of greens that I can find at the green grocer or market. Romano lettuce last the longest in the refrigerator. There are delicate greens like spinach and leaf lettuce that has a very short life after you get them home. There is lots of varieties that you can choose from in the summer which is great for quick meals in very hot weather. Strawberries add a wonderful sweet flavor to summer salads. They are usually accompanied with walnuts or pecan nuts in the salad to add some crunch to it. Nuts are very good for you and add nutrition to a dish. You also find them included in restrictive diets as snacks. Both of these salads are low in calories and can be added to any diet with a few changes like artificial sweeteners instead of sugar in the dressing.
This salad was a hit with a group of teachers who used a caterer for their special events and dinners. They fell in love with it but the caterer would not give them the recipe to the salad dressing. I am friends with some of the teachers in a quilt group and one of them served the salad at a pot luck we were having. She would buy the dressing from the caterer for $5 in a pint jar. She is on a restrictive diet and this was a special treat for her. I tasted it and knew right away that I had the recipe for it. The caterer had them all believing that this was her own secrete recipe and it was hard to make. It originally came from a magazine years ago. I waited to surprise her at the next pot luck with the salad and gave everyone the recipe for the dressing. They still use her because she is good. I like this salad made with tender mild greens.
Strawberry and Greens Salad (serves 4 side dishes)
- 4 cups of fresh greens
- 1 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries
- 1/2 sweet onion sliced in very thin rings
- 1/4 cup of toasted nuts like walnuts or pecans
- 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
- crumbled cheese
Toast nuts with cinnamon in a small skillet until they are warm and smell nutty. Add all other ingredients into a salad bowl. Toss all together with nuts. Serve with dressing.
This is a cooked dressing that will keep in the refrigerator for weeks in a tight jar.
- 1/4 cup of sugar or equivalent sugar substitute
- 1/4 cup of cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried mustard ground
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt a little can be added later to the salad if wanted
- 1/4 cup of salad oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of poppy seeds
In a small pan over medium heat cook sugar, vinegar, salt and mustard until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a blender or use a electric mixer to add oil in a small steady stream. Then gently stir in poppy seed. This can be poured into a serving jar to chill before adding to the salad before serving. It can then be shook before serving after it has been stored.
TIP FOR STORING BERRIES … store them on layers of paper towels in a tight container for a couple of days. Wash just before serving so they don’t mold.