There is something about a strawberry salad that is at once decadent and accessible. It has fruit in it, so it's more fun to eat than a regular ol' salad, but the bright berries give it an irresistible sweetness and freshness.
The same can be said for the heart-shaped fruit itself, which is currently the star of the Florida Strawberry Festival running through Sunday in Plant City.
It's prime Florida strawberry season, with prices low in grocery stores and the crop fully recovered from warm December temperatures that prevented plants from blooming. And central Florida is responsible for growing most of them.
For this week's cover story, I went out to a field in Dover and talked to Sue Harrell from the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. During a tour of the association's event center and various strawberry fields, Harrell rattled off a bunch of facts about strawberries that may come as a surprise. We've compiled 10 of the most interesting on Page 6E, so you can get to know the Florida fruit a little better.
Continuing with the theme is this week's recipe, a simple strawberry salad that gets a boost from homemade poppy seed dressing. A couple of tips. Look for logs of goat cheese in the store instead of the pre-crumbled option; it tastes fresher and adds a creamy element to the salad. For this reason, I typically leave the mayonnaise out of the dressing. To give the strawberries an added tang, you can soak them in balsamic vinegar before adding them to the salad. But this time of year, the berries are typically so sweet and juicy on their own, they taste best totally unadorned.
Contact Michelle Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.