Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Strawberry Salad

Let me introduce you to...The Strawberry Salad!  Or, "The only salad I'm going to make ever again for the rest of my life." 

   It all started with a simple mistake, as most great things do.  I had come home from working an eight hour shift on only two hours of sleep; I was starving to death but far, far too tired to do any cooking. 

My boyfriend wisely pointed out that we do not have the money to get fast food, and it would only make me feel worse in the long run anyway.  On nights like these, I make one of two dishes for us to eat: canned soup and sandwiches, or a great big salad eaten out of a shared bowl.  Tonight I chose the latter.

    Usually when I make a quick salad, it's not the kind of salad that has a recipe.  Lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, canned dressing; that's it.  It's fast, filling, foolproof.  But tonight it was not to be.

An agonized cry escaped me; we were out of tomatoes, the second most important ingredient.  I won't describe my long, tiring day at work, but I assure you it was hellish, and Morgan had had a long day too.  Neither of us was going out to get more tomatoes feeling the way we did, it was simply out of the question.

"Why not just use strawberries?"  my burgeoning-chef boyfriend asked as I blinked back frustrated tears.  It never would have occurred to me to do this on my own; maybe for a baby-spinach, hard-cooked egg and strawberry salad with bacon but certainly not for an ordinary garbage salad with Kraft dressing.  However, I was too miserable and too tired to care: I chunked up the strawberries and threw them in, prepared to choke down a disgusting meal and go sleep for seventeen hours. 

   Now, maybe everybody already knows this and I am just reporting stale news.  But guys, fresh strawberries in a garbage salad is the single most delicious thing I have ever tasted in my entire life.  They are better than the caribou steak I tried when my dad took me to dinner; they are better than candy.  They are incredible.  They pop up in your bites of lettuce and cucumber and cheese as little tasty bites of sweet and sour goodness, juicy and fresh, fruity and foreign.  And delicious.

The best part was, every dressing we had complimented them gorgeously.  When applying dressing, I was still expecting it to taste bad and was trying to decide which of the three kinds of dressing we had in the house would be the least awful.  I set aside a few bites on a plate and tried them with zesty italian, creamy ceasar and three-cheese ranch - and they were all fantastic. 

The italian vinaigrette really brought out the strawberries' tartness - it made them seem like little bites of sour-sweet sprinkled throughout the greens.

The ceasar made the whole salad seem like a dessert - everything became sweet and smooth and comforting, perfect for a really hot summer evening.

The three-cheese ranch turned the entire salad somehow meaty and filling, though, so that was the one I chose for this particular time.  It made it taste like there was bacon in the salad even though there wasn't, it made the greens and cheeses seem somehow bigger and more filling - and it made the strawberries POP!  as delicious fruity sweet bits in this heavy cheesy salad.  So lovely.

     So yes - I cannot recommend strawberries instead of (or as well as!)  tomatoes in your salads enough.   Tomorrow I'm going to make another with avocados and almonds and we'll see how that goes. 

   As an aside, this is the second time in two weeks that Morgan has followed an instinct in the kitchen that I never would have done on my own, and both times it has yielded absolutely amazing results.  I think he might secretly be a genius in the kitchen - I have to finish teaching him to cook so I can harness this goodness for myself! Haha!

I hope you all are having a great day, and that you get to eat something delicious today.  

Thanks for reading!

Love, Emily.

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