SRC June 2013
It's officially Strawberry Season! and I can't get enough of that gorgeous, tangy cone-shaped fruit. Mmmmm, just inhale the aroma of some fresh-picked berries, anticipate the sweet burst of flavor when you finally taste one... or two... or a bowlful. These berries taste like sunshine and summer. I knew my Secret Recipe Club post for this month just had to include strawberries. Luckily Heather's blog, joinuspullupachair, held the perfect candidate, a vibrant and flavor-packed recipe for Strawberry Arugula and Quinoa Salad. Her recipe for Rum Glazed Roasted Pecans joined the party and the resulting salad was capital-D Delicious. This duo was such a hit, I can't wait to try some of Heather's other tempting recipes.
There are countless versions of this Spring classic, with a wide variety of possible ingredients and dressings, and I have enjoyed each version I have tasted so far. How could you go wrong when you start with baby spinach and strawberries? The quinoa added some healthy fiber and protein to this salad, but was a pesky nuisance as it kept dropping off the fork. It presented a comical, messy challenge to try to capture or eat in a mannerly fashion.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
inspired by Heather's version at joinuspullupachairMakes 4 starter salads or 2 large servings
5 or 6 generous handfuls of baby spinach (about 1/2 large bag )
2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1 heaping cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1/2 cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/2 cup roasted pecans, divided (I used pecans and walnuts)
handful of fresh mint leaves, torn or rough chopped, plus more to garnish
thin wedge of red onion, slivered
Mix a standard 3:1 vinaigrette of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar (plus a dash of honey if the berries are not super sweet) plus salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. (Add some chopped mint and red onion to the vinaigrette for greater flavor pop.)
Use a large bowl and add the spinach, strawberries, cooled quinoa, half of the feta cheese, half of the roasted nuts and a generous sprinkling of mint leaves. Toss to combine. Lightly dress with the vinaigrette and toss again. Top with the remaining feta cheese, roasted nuts and mint leaves. Serve, and wait for the compliments.
Rum-Glazed Roasted Pecans
from Heather's recipe at joinuspullupachair
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp rum
2 cups whole pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat both sugars, salt and 2 tablespoons of rum over medium to medium-high heat until it boils. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir until the syrup starts to turn clear and non-granular. Take care not to burn the syrup.
Add the pecans; use a heat-proof spatula and stir to coat each nut. The mixture will be thick and stiff, but don't worry. Once the pecans are coated, carefully add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of rum. The syrup will loosen up at this point. Stir continuously until the syrup returns to a boil, being careful not to burn the nuts or sugar coating. Spoon the pecans onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the syrup appears hard and once again, be careful not to burn the nuts - they scorch easily! Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool on the baking sheet. Break apart to separate the nut clusters and store in a cool, dry place.