Spinach and Strawberry Daiquiri Salad

This week while searching for a recipe to sample for customers, I came across an intriguing sounding one, once again sourced from Yummly. If you haven’t checked out this website yet you really should – you can set up a profile where you can list foods you are allergic/intolerant of, foods you just don’t like, and whether you are following a specific diet (vegan, etc.). Once you have your profile set up, you can search for recipes using filters that will only show ones that fit the bill. You can also search the recipes according to taste (salty, sweet, savory, etc.), cuisine, preparation time, and course, as well as enter ingredients (one at a time) that you already have and it will find recipes to fit those parameters. You can also post photos of the dishes you make (I submitted a photo of the pesto I made last week and you can now find it on their website). It really is the best recipe website I have run across.

I found a recipe for Spinach and Strawberry Daiquiri Salad, and knew I had to try it. We currently have local bulk baby spinach (the same as I used for the Spinach Pesto last week), and some beautiful California strawberries (we won’t see local strawberries for a couple of weeks as least – check out the article in this month’s Co-op Community News). The recipe originally came from Allrecipes and had gotten really great reviews.

This is a really festive salad that would be great for summer potlucks (and the recipe is large enough to serve a small crowd) – the bright green of the spinach mixed with the vibrant red of the strawberries makes your mouth water, and everyone will be pleasantly surprised at the complexity of its flavor.

The daiquiri inspiration comes not from alcohol, but from the honey-lime dressing and toasted unsweetened coconut flakes (although if you were going to an adults-only potluck, a shot of tequila or rum might be a fun addition to the dressing!). The salad also includes some lightly candied almonds to add a little crunch and to compliment the sweetness of the strawberries. While the combinations may sound a little strange, everyone who tried it loved it, and someone even said it was the best salad ever!

As for execution, it was pretty simple to make, although more involved than tossing together a green salad. You have to candy the sliced almonds, which takes about 10 minutes (watch that you don’t heat the sugar too fast or it will form hard little sugar nuggets that will break someone’s tooth!) and you have to toast the coconut flakes (unless you have access to toasted flaked coconut, but it is a really simple process nonetheless). A little slicing and dicing, and you have the perfect summer celebration salad!

Spinach and Strawberry Daiquiri Salad Photo © Sassy Sampler 2011

Spinach and Strawberry Daiquiri Salad

INGREDIENTS

Dressing:

  • 1/4 c lime juice
  • 1/4 c honey (use agave syrup if you are vegan)
  • 1/4 t poppy seeds
  • 1/4 t Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c canola oil

Candied Almonds:

  • 1 c sliced almonds
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 c sugar

Salad:

  • ~ 10 oz baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 1 # strawberries, sliced
  • 1 c flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine the almonds, salt and sugar in a large skillet.  Stir constantly (especially once sugar starts to melt) over medium heat until the almonds are light golden brown and sugar has melted, about 10 minutes.  Remove nuts from the skillet to cool.
  2. Wipe out the skillet.  Toast the coconut flakes over medium-low heat until lightly toasted.  Remove coconut from skillet to cool.
  3. Combine the lime juice, honey (or agave), poppy seeds, and mustard in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in the oil and set aside.
  4. Toss the spinach, strawberries, coconut, onions, and cooled almonds in a large bowl.
  5. Top with prepared dressing, and toss to coat.

You can also make the salad ahead of time: toss spinach, strawberries and onions in a large bowl and refrigerate.  When you are ready to serve, add the coconut, almonds and dressing and toss.

Spinach and Strawberry Daiquiri Salad PDF


Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Mmmmm…roasted veggies. Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Even though we haven’t had the sunniest summer (compared to the beauty that was last summer, at least), there has been a great tomato crop this year from the Growing Garden (among other things!).  I wanted to feature one last recipe with these beautiful fruits that masquerade as veggies.

I read a few other blogs on a sporadic basis, and while looking for a recipe for this week I looked back into the August archive on Meals by Sheri (another WordPress blogger from MI) and found what I was looking for – an easy recipe that could feature a bounty of local produce.

Sheri’s Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce recipe called for Roma tomatoes, but I wanted to use the slicers from the Growing Garden.  I looked online to see if I should seed them or not – little did I know that this is apparently an age-old debate!  Half said to seed, the other half said not – I decided that since the tomatoes were truly vine-ripened and in season, I would risk not seeding them before preparing the sauce.  It was a fine decision – the seeds were so little and tender that they were not noticeable.   If you use Romas, you also don’t need to seed your tomatoes, but if you are preparing this recipe in the off-season and/or with “vine-ripe” tomatoes (which aren’t always ripened on the plant – sure, the vine is attached, but the vine’s not attached to the plant so it’s not exactly the same thing) you will want to seed them.

I was able to use all local, organic ingredients (with the exception of the green and red bell peppers – even in a good year we don’t see those grown locally for retail).  I stuck with Sheri’s original recommendations for the recipe, so I chopped up the tomatoes, (fresh) red onion, peppers, garlic, and carrots and threw them in my baking dish.  A drizzle of olive oil and dashes of Himalayan pink sea salt (in bulk at the co-op) and black pepper and I was done.

I’ll take a moment here to talk about salt – salt gets a bad rap, and I feel it does matter what kind of salt you choose to consume.  Regular table salt is depleted of its natural nutrients and isn’t a benefit to your diet.  Sea salt is much better because it isn’t as processed and is rich in minerals and nutrients, depending on what kind you get (Himalayan pink sea salt has over 80 nutrients in it and is very minimally processed).  That doesn’t give you license to dump piles of salt on your food, but it does mean that in moderation, salt (which your body needs to survive) can be beneficial.  One other salt note – it is far better to add salt to your dishes while you are cooking than to salt the food at the table (no matter what kind of salt you use).  When you cook with salt, your body treats it differently than in its raw form, and you probably won’t use as much either!

Anyway, I put my prepared veggies in the oven and roasted them for about an hour and 20 minutes.  Once they were done, I let them cool for about 20 minutes, since the next step entailed pureeing the veggies.  You never want to put piping hot food in a blender or food processor because you’ll get a shower of boiling hot veggies in the face!  Once I felt it was cool enough, I dumped it in the food processor and puréed it until it was slightly chunky (I added fresh basil at this point).  Once that was good, I poured it into a medium saucepan (I had about 4 cups) and added some dried oregano and a little more sea salt.  Once it was heated through, I took it off and let it sit overnight in the fridge  – I don’t know why, but tomato sauces tend to be better the next day.

Demo day dawned and I cut a fresh Avenue Bakery baguette to serve with the sauce (no GF bread option, but the sauce was good enough to sample without bread anyway!).  Customers absolutely LOVED the recipe and many people said that they would be promptly preparing the recipe themselves!  I’m pretty sure that it was my husband’s favorite recipe demo I have done because he came back to “try” some more many times and hinted that if I had any leftovers to be sure to bring them home to him!

So here is the fantastically easy and deliciously delicious pasta sauce recipe from Sheri!

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 or 6 large tomatoes, halved *
  • 1 medium-large red onion, peeled and cut into large, even chunks
  • 2 green peppers (or one red and one green), seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 3/4” chunks (cut in half lengthwise if they are thick carrots)
  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 1 –2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. Place all your prepared veggies and garlic into a large jelly roll pan.
  3. Pour olive oil over veggies and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss to coat (with your hands, your best kitchen tool!).  Turn tomatoes cut side up.
  5. Roast in oven  for about an hour, until veggies are soft , lightly browned, and the edges on the tomatoes have shrunken slightly in.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  7. Add veggies and fresh basil to food processor and pulse until you have a chunky sauce.  Add a bit more olive oil if desired.  The sauce should be thick, not watery.
  8. Add sauce to a medium saucepan.  Simmer on low.  Add basil and oregano, and more salt and pepper if desired.  Heat sauce until warmed.
  9. Serve over your favorite pasta, or refrigerate and re-heat the next day.

Additions:  mushrooms, hot peppers, cheese, zucchini, etc.  Sauté veggies on the stove while your other veggies are roasting.  Add them to the saucepan after pureeing the sauce.

Serve with subtle garlic bread—Slice bread and brush with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper and toast in a 350° oven for about 5-8 minutes.  Turn bread slices over and finish toasting (another 5-8 minutes).  Just out of the oven, rub surface of bread with a peeled garlic clove.

You can freeze any excess sauce—make it easy for next time and pre-portion it before freezing!

* If you are using in-season tomatoes, there is no need to seed and peel them.  If you are using tomatoes in the off-season, you may want to seed them before roasting.   If you use Romas, there is no need to de-seed.

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta Sauce PDF