Well, between this and my last post you may have gauged that I like spinach, you'll all have to start calling me Popeye! This has always been one of my favourite salads, whenever I see it in a restaurant I'll be sure to order it. It's a pretty classic combination although it's often just with toasted pecans. I love and I mean LOVE the Maple Candied Pecans from the 'Smlove Pie' in Veganomicon that I couldn't resist adding them here.
It's an altogether beautiful combination, everything just balances perfectly here - the sweet strawberries and pecans with the spinach and that slightly spicy balsamic dressing just works. I was debating what kind of dressing to use and opted for my all time favourite balsamic dressing from my Warm Puy Lentil Spinach and Watercress Salad. Wasn't sure about adding the dijon and garlic but so glad I did, the slight spice is perfect with this. Also, once you toss this with the strawberries, a bit of their juice mixes with the dressing making a slight strawberry balsamic dressing. I could almost drink that stuff. Seriously.
I also opted to make this as there were some fresh Irish grown strawberries in the shops, it may be a bit early for home grown strawberries but do make sure you get locally grown strawberries here. They are a main ingredient here and you want them fresh and sweet, not those pale, watery flavourless strawberries you tend to get out of season.
Like I mentioned above, the Maple Candied Pecans are from Veganomicon's Smlove Pie, I usually would not repost a recipe from a cookbook but as this recipe is posted by Isa here, I will for ease of use. I also highly recommend making more of these pecans as they are simply gorgeous to snack on and makes it easier to just throw this salad together anytime!
Baby Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Maple Candied Pecans and Balsamic Dressing - serves 2
100g Baby Spinach, larger stems removed
200g Strawberries, halved or quartered if large
40g Maple Candied Pecans
1 Recipe Balsamic Dressing
Add the baby spinach to a large bowl and add the strawberries, pour over the dressing and gently toss. Divide among 2 salad bowls and top with the pecans.
Maple Candied Pecans:
1/2 cup whole pecans - about 66g
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Toast the pecans in a saucepan for a couple minutes until just light brown and fragrant. These will burn easily and I have several times before and they are not nice burnt so watch carefully. Add the oil and salt and stir to coat. Add the maple syrup - it will bubble away, stir all the time until it looks fairly dry. Using a rubber spatula scrape onto a sheet of baking paper and separate the pecans and let cool. As they are cooling seperate them a bit more if need be. They should end up with a nice crispy coating.
3 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
about 5-6 grinds black pepper
Measure the olive oil into a small bowl, with your whisk ready slowly start whisking in the vinegar until emulsified. Do not do this the other way around or add it all at once or it won't come together. Add the dijon and whisk well until it is fully incorporated and there are no little dots of dijon - it will happen :-) Now whisk in the salt, garlic and pepper. Set aside until ready to use then give it another good whisk before using.
Nutritional Information: per serving
Sat Fat: 4.5g
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