I wanted to post this quickly before I forget and all the strawberries that are now very ripe start to turn and, poof, it becomes raspberry season -- not that there is anything wrong with raspberries, of course; in fact, they too will figure in the next paragraph.
Recipe (In Narrative Form): Most Excellent If Slightly Boojy Salad
The other day I made a Most Excellent If Slightly Boojy Salad consisting of adorable, tiny, local strawberries, some crumbled goat cheese, and some candied pecans over a mix of arugula and spinach. The dressing is one of my best inventions yet, made with three parts olive oil to one part balsamic vinegar and one part raspberry preserves. I whisk everything together, add some fresh basil and salt to the concoction, let it sit for a couple hours to soak up the basil flavor, and then strain the whole thing to get rid of the solids. I also whisk in a couple teaspoons of water at the end to thin it out; I've never been fond of viscous vinaigrettes.
This salad is a lot more Martha Stewart-esque than the dishes I usually make, but it's nice for a change. If you too choose to make it, you could substitute feta cheese or candied walnuts (or a non-candied nut, if you prefer). The dressing also could be made with a different kind of preserves or another herb -- mint would be good. And although this salad may reek of privilege, you can use sparingly the more expensive ingredients, like goat cheese and candied pecans. If you want you can sprinkle the cheese finely and coarsely grind just a couple tablespoons of the nuts in a blender or food processor. This way, the flavors are still well-represented but plenty of leftover ingredients remain.
I wish I had taken a picture of Most Excellent Salad in all her beauty and refinement! Just picture for yourself a salad that might be on the cover of Martha Stewart Living, next to headlines about peonies and chiffon cake and the like.