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From the food editor: Enjoy local crop in Strawberry Salad With Poppyseed Dressing

Strawberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing.

MICHELLE STARK | Times

Strawberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing.

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 mstark@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

easy

Strawberry Salad With Poppyseed Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 5 to 8 ounces baby spinach (4 to 5 lightly packed cups)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons poppy seed salad dressing, recipe below

Instructions

  1. Hull and then cut the strawberries into thin slices.
  2. If your pecans aren't already toasted, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake them in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until darkened and very fragrant. Cool briefly before tossing with salad, or pull them out just before and leave them warm for something a little different.
  3. Set aside a few of the prettiest strawberry slices, a few pecans and some of the goat cheese to sprinkle over the top of the salad.
  4. Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle a tablespoon of the poppy seed dressing over the greens and toss gently to coat. Continue adding tablespoons of dressing as needed until the greens are all evenly slicked with dressing. Gently toss the sliced strawberries, pecans and goat cheese with the spinach.
  5. Transfer the salad to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle the reserved strawberries, pecans, and goat cheese over the top, along with one last drizzle of dressing. Serves 4.
Source: Adapted from thekitchn.com.

easy

Poppyseed Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons mayonnaise, for a creamier dressing

Instructions

  1. Whisk the white wine vinegar and sugar until the sugar is mostly dissolved (it's okay if there is still some undissolved sugar). Peel the shallot and grate it on a microplane or the smallest holes on a box grater directly into the bowl. Add the poppy seeds, salt, and ground mustard, and whisk to combine. If using, whisk in mayonnaise.
  2. Whisking the dressing steadily, pour the olive oil into the dressing in a slow stream. Continue whisking until completely combined.
  3. Transfer to a covered container and store in the fridge for several weeks. The dressing will separate as it sits; shake to recombine before using. Makes 1 cup.
Source: thekitchn.com

From the food editor: Enjoy local crop in Strawberry Salad With Poppyseed Dressing 03/07/16 [Last modified: Monday, March 7, 2016 3:49pm]
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