I’m gearing up for summer. Spring seems to have passed us by entirely in Vancouver. Because things can change so quickly around here, so much of the small talk revolves around the weather–and arguments, too. I think that we’ve had a pretty good June so far, without as much rain as usual. I always remember June to be just as wet as April, with summer not really taking off until July, but some of my cityfolk insist that this isn’t true. In any case, I’m finally stocking up on a variety of lettuces at the market and potting some new herbs for my windowsill garden.
And I’m getting creative with salads again. I always thought that I wasn’t a salad person until I began combining fruit and greens, adding cheeses, mixing up my own dressings and toasting nuts to garnish. Thus, I have a new appreciation for them. I always rolled my eyes whenever I watched TV shows in which the women ordered salad in restaurants. I thought they were being pretentious, putting on a show for their companion–look at me, how virtuous I am! Plus, I never understood why you would order something so basic, something so not filling, and pay fifteen bucks for it. Now I can conceive of myself as one of those women. I have come to love a fresh Nicoise, or a plate of frisee topped with a poached egg and crumbled bacon–my new favorite.
Besides this one.
Baby arugula with strawberries, toasted almonds, and goat cheese, drizzled with homemade balsamic glaze and a vinaigrette with a touch of maple syrup.
There is no recipe. It’s salad. But I do have a recipe for the dressing, which is lovely with any salad that requires a touch of sweetness, because of the maple.
Start by arranging the arugula (rocket) on a platter or plate. Top with sliced strawberries and small spoonfuls of plain or fig goat cheese. Toast some slivered almonds in the oven for a few minutes. Toss them on as well.
The balsamic glaze is simple. Why pay the big price at a specialty market when you can make it at home in a few minutes for half the price? Buy a large bottle of cheap balsamic vinegar; in a pot with a heavy bottom, bring to a boil over the stove. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until all the water evaporates and the vinegar becomes a glaze, thick enough to coat the back of a spoon–about twenty minutes. Easy.
When ready to serve, drizzle the salad with the glaze and the following dressing:
Mix in a glass jar with a lid:
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon organic maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley and chives
1 large garlic clove, minced