Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Feta, Red Onion and Toasted Almonds, by Lauren Braun Costello of It’s Lauren of Course!

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Feta, Red Onion and Toasted Almonds, by Lauren Braun Costello of It’s Lauren of Course!

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This salad is a celebration of everything the Westport Farmer’s Market has to offer in June, from the verdant spinach leaves and vermilion strawberries to the artisanal goat cheese and local honey. Nothing screams summer quite like a flavorful and colorful salad made from farm-fresh greens and berries. Salty feta, toasted almonds, and blanched red onions help to compose this delightful summer melody. Almost any vinaigrette will work, but a honey-balsamic is the perfect pairing.

Essential equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; measuring cups and spoons; small saucepan; strainer; small and large mixing bowl; tongs 

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
½ cup olive oil (Kontoulis)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar (Kontoulis)

1 tablespoon honey (The Bee Love Project)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves (Fort Hill Farm)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 

Salad Ingredients:

1 bag spinach leaves, (Riverbank Farm)
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (Fort Hill Farm)

1 small onion (Ox Hollow Farm)

½ cup crumbled feta (Beaver Brook Farm)

¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

kosher sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. First prepare the vinaigrette. In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, mustard, and thyme. Slowly add the oil and whisk vigorously until the mixture emulsifies. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Alternatively, this can be made in a glass jar by adding all of the ingredients and shaking. Set aside.

2. Next, prepare the red onion. Make a small bowl of ice water and set aside. Place a saucepan filled halfway with water over high heat and bring to a boil. While the water comes to a boil, trim the onion of its top, bottom, and skin. Slice the onion crosswise into thin slices. Break up the slices into rings. Place the rings in boiling water for 20-30 seconds until wilted. Immediately pour into a strainer and then into a bowl of ice water. After 2 minutes in ice water, strain the onions and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. 

ILOC tip: blanching the onion in water renders it less sharp and acidic, making its flavor shine without too much bite.

3. Place the spinach leaves in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the strawberries, a fistful of the blanched onions, and the crumbled feta. Drizzle ¼ cup of the vinaigrette and toss well to coat, adding more vinaigrette one tablespoon at a time until the greens are dressed to your liking.

ILOC tip: salad dressing should be used sparingly – just enough to coat lightly each component of the salad. Think of dressing as wet seasoning for your greens. Every item should be evenly and lightly coated.

4. Sprinkle the top of the salad with the toasted almonds and serve.

Serves 4. 

Store remaining vinaigrette and blanched onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later use.

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