Specialty salads work well as a either a side dish or a main dish for lunch. They show a little more thought and effort in your cooking and bring a higher level of sophistication to your meals. One delicious salad to try is Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad.
The amounts listed here are for each side salad. Simply multiple the ingredients by the number of your guests to create a shopping list.
- 1 large handful of mixed greens. These can be any mixture of greens prepackaged from the grocery store, or you can mix your own greens. Be sure to use a bit of spinach and arugula in order to get a well-rounded flavor. The spinach complements the strawberries in this recipe while the arugula adds a bit of spiciness.
- 2-3 large strawberries. Make sure you choose fully ripe, dark red strawberries.
- 1/3 large white onion.
- Oil for frying.
- Pinch salt.
- 1-2 ounces goat cheese. Goat cheese comes in many varieties. You may find soft, hard, or brined goat cheese. Each of these types may be plain or have herbs and spices added to them. For this salad you should choose a soft goat cheese that is easy to crumble for a mild flavor, or a brined cheese similar to feta if you like something a little more salty. Avoid cheeses with herbs already added as they may overpower the flavor of the strawberries and onions.
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
You should begin by chopping and caramelizing your onions. Caramelizing onions reduces the strong, spicy flavor most onions carry and releases a sweet, slightly crispy taste. Heat one or two tablespoons of oil in a medium frying pan on a medium-low flame. While the oil is heating you should chop the onions into long, thin slices. Once the onions are chopped, squeeze them in your hands, rubbing them together to release their juices. Place the onions in the heated oil. They should sizzle slightly, but the oil should not pop. If the oil pops, reduce the flame slightly. Stir the onions so that they are coated in oil, add a pinch of salt, and let them sit for one or two minutes before stirring again. The trick to caramelizing onions is to interfere with them as little as possible, and allow them to slowly take on a rich, brown color. You should only stir them once every minute, cooking them for about five minutes in total.
While your onions are caramelizing you can wash and chop your strawberries. Clean the strawberries by running them for at least a minute under cool water. Remove the stems and chop into quarters. While you are washing the strawberries you can also rinse your mixed greens and either shake the water from them or use a salad spinner to get rid of the excess moisture.
By the time you finish preparing your fruits and vegetables your onions should be done caramelizing. They should be a medium brown color, and cooked all the way through. Remove the onions from heat and allow them to cool while you prepare the salad beds. Make sure the onions are fully cool before adding them to the salad. If they are still warm they will potentially wilt the greens, making your salad lose its crisp freshness.
To construct the salad begin by placing a handful of greens on a small salad plate. Next, arrange the quartered strawberries on top of the greens. Place the cooled onions on top of the strawberries. Using your fingers, loosely crumble the goat cheese on top of the onions. Finally, just before serving, drizzle a bit of balsamic vinaigrette dressing over the entire salad. Some people may enjoy adding a few fresh walnuts to the top of the salad, but the salad has a complete and robust flavor on its own.
This delicious salad should only take fifteen minutes to prepare, and it is fifteen minutes well spent. This salad adds great color to your table, and offering a well-balanced salad as a side dish or appetizer shows your guests that you care about them and have given extra thought to the meal you are serving.