This salad does require a few do-ahead preparations, but they could not be more simple, or more delicious. I could eat this every day of my life! For the vinaigrette I use fresh strawberries which I freeze, and then thaw, in a resealable plastic bag. This makes the consistency of the berries very soft and you will be able to simply mash them within the bag, rather than having to whip out the blender and additional sugar to achieve the desired consistency. Of course if you have gorgeously ripe, local strawberries, as are available this time of year, just place straight in the bag and let your fingers have at ‘em.
1/2 cup strawberries, super-ripe or freshly frozen and then thawed, mashed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2+ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 fresh beets, rinsed and trimmed
1/4 cup walnuts
1 bunch Bordeaux (or other delicate variety) spinach
pinch of sea salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled (optional)*
freshly sliced strawberries (optional)
Combine mashed strawberries with the balsamic vinegar in a glass jar secured with a lid. Shake and allow to infuse in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Strain vinegar with a sieve. Combine the extra virgin olive oil into the infused vinegar and keep the dressing in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to three days.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Rinse and dry 4 fresh beets and wrap individually in tin foil. Place on a baking tray and bake for 1 – 1+1/2 hours until soft. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Once cool enough to handle, slide the skins and roots away from the beets. Slice and reserve.
Meanwhile, in the same oven, place walnuts on a dry baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes until lightly golden and fragrant. Crush with fingertips and reserve.
Combine coarsely chopped spinach and all other ingredients and season with sea salt and pepper. Add the optional goat cheese and garnish with fresh strawberry slices, if desired.
*I adore the optional goat cheese in this salad. It really rounds it out into a meal. I prefer a very delicate cheese with a hint of honey. This salad is amazing served as a luncheon main course or as a vegetarian option at a pot luck spring celebration.
Serves 4 as a main.