Strawberry Salad with Pecans & Feta
In a recent post, Keys to Making Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pecans, I mentioned that one sign of spring’s arrival is the presence of fresh, tender asparagus at the grocery store. Yet another sign of spring is the arrival of fresh, fragrant, juicy red strawberries to the grocery store or produce stand. One of my favorite salads to prepare during the spring months, when strawberries are at their peak flavor, is Strawberry Salad with Pecans and Feta Cheese. Strawberry Salad is a wonderful, “company-worthy” salad, and it’s visually appealing with the beautiful contrast of the green leaves with the redness of the berries.
Strawberry Salad with Pecans and Feta Cheese has the saltiness of feta cheese contrasted with the sweetness of the strawberries and the crunchiness of the toasted pecans. What a wonderful combination of flavors! I really like homemade salad dressings, and this salad dressing really enhances the salad.
Step One: Toast the Pecans & Cap the Berries
Toasting nuts really brings out their flavor! Nuts can be toasted in a skillet on top of the stove or placed in the oven at 350°F. for 5 minutes or so. Keep a close eye on the nuts while they are toasting because they can go from “just right” to “burnt” in just the blink of an eye!
While the pecans are toasting, cap the berries and slice them into halves or quarters, to your preference.
Step Two: Prepare the Salad Dressing
To make the salad dressing for the Strawberry Salad, place the dressing ingredients in a glass jar or bottle with a lid and shake well. The salad dressing is made of white wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper and fresh or dried dill. Honey, agave or your favorite sweetener can be substituted for the sugar in this dressing recipe.
Step Three: Combine the Salad Ingredients
In a large bowl, combine the spring mix salad greens, strawberries, crumbled feta cheese and toasted pecans. (Optional: If you like bacon, you can add it too. I tried it with bacon and I liked it!) Add the salad dressing just prior to when you want to serve the Strawberry Salad and give it a good toss to distribute the dressing evenly over the salad.
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or less)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 6 cups spring mix salad greens
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Optional: 4 slices bacon, fried, drained & crumbled
- Dressing: Whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, dill, salt and pepper. (Or place the ingredients in a jar or bottle with a lid and give it a good shake!)
- Salad: Toss strawberries, greens, pecans, feta cheese and bacon (if using) with dressing.
Tips for Preparing Strawberries
Strawberries need to remain on the plant to fully ripen because they don’t continue to ripen after being picked. When choosing strawberries choose red, ripe fruit, not the berries with patches of yellow or white on them. Strawberries maintain their nutritional value for only a few days so buy them just before you plan to eat them to maintain optimal nutrition, flavor and color.
Since they are very perishable, strawberries should not be washed until right before eating or using in a recipe. Do not remove their caps and stems until after you have gently washed the berries under cold running water and patted them dry. To remove the stems, caps and white hull, simply pinch these off with your fingers or use a paring knife.
To freeze strawberries, first gently wash them and pat them dry. You can either remove the cap and stem or leave them intact, depending upon what you will do with them once they are thawed. Arrange them in a single layer on a flat pan or cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer where they will keep for up to one year. Adding a bit of lemon juice to the berries will help to preserve their color. While strawberries can be frozen whole, cut or crushed, they will retain a higher level of their vitamin C content if left whole.
Tasty Tips for Using Strawberries:
*Add sliced strawberries to mixed green salad. (See above recipe!)
Strawberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C, manganese, and health-promoting antioxidants. Three and a half ounces of strawberries contain only 33 calories, making them a great choice for a snack.
The fragrantly sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries brighten up the taste and appearance of any meal! Have some strawberries soon!
Remember to Savor the Flavor!
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