Thursday, January 31, 2008

January 30, 2008: Strawberry and spinach salad

The use of fruit in salads is a bit controversial. Yes, I know that tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits, strictly speaking, but I'm thinking more about oranges, nectarines or apples. I've been quite a skeptic myself but I'm gradually coming around. I've long reconciled myself to salads of bitter green leaves, pear and cheese; this sandwich wouldn't be the same without apple; and grapes give a new dimension to a haloumi salad. Even so, adding strawberries to a green leaf salad seemed a step up - don't those red heart-shaped fruits belong with chocolate or cream?

I took a chance on Molly's spinach strawberry salad anyway, and I'm glad I did. This unlikely pair get along surprisingly well, and the almonds add another deliciously confusing element - I felt as if a mouthful of strawberry and almond should be followed by sweet pastry! The accompanying pomegranate viniagrette is rather nice too. I made a couple of changes to suit my tastes, completely omitting the salad onion and dry-roasting chopped whole almonds rather than using raw slivered ones. The deeper roasted flavour was fantastic and I'd recommend that anyone else trying this recipe do it too!

To bulk the salad up into dinner territory, we added Helen's Kitchen brand Vegetarian Chicken Tofu Steaks. Knowing it pairs well with strawberries, I brushed a little balsamic vinegar on the steaks as they cooked. To be honest, these didn't do much for us. They were rather tough, and that may be my fault for overcooking them. However they didn't have much flavour of their own, and I reckon I'd do just as well slicing up a block of extra-firm tofu instead. This didn't mar the overall experience at all, and I do plan to invite that eccentric couple spinach and strawberry over for dinner again.

To try this salad for yourself, refer to the recipe over at Molly's blog, Batter-Splattered.


  1. What a pretty salad! I have to admit that other than the addition of some sweet fuji apples to a crisp lettuce salad, I'm a bit adverse to fruit in my salads too...might be time to branch out, though!

  2. I love fruit in salads - the strawberries look so good and my eyes opened in excitment at the thought of the pomegranate molasses dressing - but I would have to give the tricken a miss :-)

  3. I don't know...I think the tofu chicken steaks look pretty good. I love soy products.

    Your salad looks delicious! Don't doubt the fruit! It takes the salad to a new level.

  4. Thanks Ellie! This one has definitely opened my mind a little. I'm still put off by the idea of including a syrupy sweet fruit (like peach or mango) in a salad but now I'm more willing to be proven wrong. :-)

    Johanna, I think your love of fruit in salads gave me a little nudge towards this recipe. Note, though, that the original recipe has pomegranate juice rather than molasses. I reckon the molasses might be even better, though you'd obviously have to tinker with the quantities, perhaps completely omit the sugar.

    Welcome, Emiline! :-) We generally like our soy products too. It's just that this one had extra packaging and a higher price than the firm tofu we usually buy, for no extra flavour or texture in the end. I'll just return to buying my usual brand next time. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? And this recipe was definitely a net gain.

  5. I made this last night and it was fantastic - the pomegranate molasses in the vinaigrette is divine (and it helped me use up my haloumi). Thanks cindy

  6. Cool - glad you liked it, Johanna. :-)