Happy May, friends!
My family loves a good salad and here is a salad that says "Hello, It's Spring!" in a big way. Adapted from a recipe we enjoyed at a friend's home recently, I've served this salad a few times and have tweaked the recipe to make it my own by adding candied almonds and pea shoots that I grew from seed. This would make a delicious salad to make for your Mother's Day celebration!
I started pea shoots from seeds again this year and now have lots of cute little pea shoots to snip and garnish just about anything from salad to soup to entrees. They're even delicious on a simple tuna salad. If you can't find pea shoots, you can substitute any micro greens your market might carry or use watercress or parsley. If you would like to try growing pea shoots, take a look HERE.
I also tweaked the strawberry vinaigrette and used Champagne vinegar for a milder, less acidic taste. It's absolutely delicious and can be made a day ahead. Add some poppy seeds if you like them. It's the crowning glory to this wonderful salad!
Once again, Happy May, from my home and our magnolia tree!
Strawberry-Cucumber Salad with Candied Almonds and Strawberry VinaigrettePrintable Recipe
4 ounces mixed baby greens
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries, halved, if large, and sliced
1 cup sliced cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced
2 green onions, with some of the light green part, sliced thinly
Pea shoots, other Micro green shoots or Watercress (Optional)
1/2 cup Candied almonds (Optional, Recipe follows)
Fresh Strawberry Poppy seed Dressing (Recipe follows)
1/2 cup water
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar (granulated)
2 cups sliced almonds, or other nuts or seeds
(Note: Be very cautious of liquid caramelized sugar, as it can burn your skin if you stir too vigorously or are not carefully pouring them out of the pan.)
Cover a cookie sheet with a silicone mat, or line it with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set the baking sheet aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar, and place the pan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring the mixture to a boil. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, add the almonds and reduce the heat to medium. Stir frequently until the sugar crystallizes around the almonds, this should take about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on heat. When the sugar crystallizes, continue stirring even though it may become harder to stir. Eventually, the sugar will start to re-melt and then it will caramelize, turn a deep golden brown color, and the liquid caramel will coat the almonds. The caramelizing process could take 15 minutes.
Once the sugar is caramelized and completely liquid, pour the almonds out onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a fork to separate the nuts while the sugar is still liquid. Let the almonds set at room temperature until they're cool and hard. Once the almonds are set, break them apart and serve or store.
These delicious candied almonds can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week, during dry conditions. Add to salads or as a topping for ice cream or desserts.
1 cup quartered fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons poppy seeds (Optional)
Place the strawberries, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a blender. Mix gently and then let stand 15 minutes then process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Scrape down and process briefly again if there are any larger chunks of strawberry remaining. Turn blender to low, and gradually add olive oil in a slow stream. Place mixture in a jar or cruet and add poppy seeds, if using. Refrigerate until ready to use. Whisk before serving, if necessary.
Place salad ingredients, up to and including candied almonds, in a serving bowl or platter. Lightly dress with Strawberry Vinaigrette and serve. Pass extra dressing at the table.