Ginger-lime vinaigrette adds tingle to this summer starter
Our markets have local strawberries in abundance. Spinach too. So why not let them mix it up in a scrumptious salad?
We add feta cheese and almond slices for depth and texture. Plus ginger-lime vinaigrette for spicy sharpness. The results are delish.
Best of all, this salad is easy enough to make for a weeknight. And fancy enough for a weekend dinner party.
Recipe: Strawberry, Spinach, and Feta Salad
We love to combine strawberries with spinach. We’ve paired them before in our Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Balsamic Poppy-Seed Dressing.
You can make the ginger-lime dressing for this salad right before serving, but we think it’s better if you let the flavors to get to know each other. So we make the dressing ahead and allow it to rest in the fridge for a few hours (or, better yet, overnight). BTW, the recipe for the vinaigrette will likely make more than you’ll need for this salad. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for a few days.
We like to wash and dry the spinach and wash/slice the strawberries an hour or two ahead. Then, when it’s time to serve the salad, we can put everything together in a few minutes.
Prep time for this dish is about 15 minutes.
This recipe yields 4 servings.
For the ginger-lime vinaigrette:
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon lime zest (about the amount you’ll get from 1 lime)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (champagne or sherry vinegar preferred)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ~6 drops hot sauce, or to taste (very optional)
- a pinch or two of salt (to taste; see Notes)
- a few grinds of black pepper to taste (about 6 for us)
- 5 to 6 ounces spinach (about 5 cups; may substitute Bibb lettuce)
- ~1 quart strawberries (to taste; a heaping handful or two per serving)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds (to taste)
- ~2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (to taste)
- Make the vinaigrette: Use a piece of ginger about 1-inch long. Cut off the peel, then chop it roughly. Mince the ginger pieces finely in a mini food processor (or grate them with a microplane, although the food processor is a lot easier). Scrape the minced ginger into a small, lidded jar that’s large enough to hold all the vinaigrette ingredients (you’ll be using this to mix the dressing).
- Zest the lime, then squeeze 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Add the zest and juice to the mixing jar.
- Add the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, hot sauce (if using), plus salt and pepper to taste, to the mixing jar. Cover the jar tightly, then shake it vigorously. Store the vinaigrette in the refrigerator until ready to use (we recommend letting it rest overnight).
- An hour or two before serving the salad, wash the spinach and spin it dry. Store the washed spinach in a kitchen towel in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Wash and dry the strawberries. Hull them, then cut them into halves or quarters (depending on how big they are). You may want to reserve 1 strawberry per serving as garnish. Place the sliced strawberries in an airtight container, then store them in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Slice the almonds (if not using pre-sliced ones): Cut the almonds into thin slices or slivers. Place them in an airtight container until ready to use.
- When ready to make the salad: Assemble all the ingredients on your kitchen counter. Shake the dressing to recombine (it will probably have separated). Place the spinach in a largish bowl, then pour a tablespoon or two of vinaigrette over it. Toss the spinach with long spoons (or use your hands – our favored method). Make sure all the spinach leaves are coated with dressing. Then plate the spinach, dividing it into 4 servings.
- Add the strawberries to the mixing bowl. Add another tablespoon or two of the vinaigrette, then toss it with the strawberries. Arrange the strawberries on top of the spinach servings.
- Sprinkle feta cheese (crumble it if necessary) and almond slices over each salad serving. Use as much of each as you fancy. Serve and enjoy.
- Don’t hull and slice the strawberries more than a couple of hours ahead of time. Once you wash and slice them, you shorten their shelf life. Refrigerating the strawberries helps keep them fresher once they’re sliced.
- Quantities for this recipe are flexible. You can use more or less of each ingredient, to taste.
- We haven’t tried adding garlic to the vinaigrette, but that would probably taste pretty good. One clove is what we’d recommend.
- BTW, if the vinaigrette tastes a little bitter – it sometimes does – you can add a touch of sugar or honey to sweeten it. We recommend tasting the vinaigrette after it’s rested in the refrigerator, then adjusting the seasoning if needed.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- Don’t want to use feta cheese? Blue cheese would also work. Or maybe a creamy cheese, like ricotta (we haven’t tried that, but the idea sounds appealing).
- You could probably add some bacon to this salad if you want. Just saying.
- We like to use almonds in this salad, but pecans or walnuts would be nice, too. Or just skip the nuts – particularly if you add bacon.
“Wow, the ginger-lime vinaigrette really wakes up my taste buds,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “It’s like a tongue alarm.”
“Merci beaucoup,” I said. “But you have me flashing back to that old band from the 60s, Strawberry Alarm Clock.”
“Oh, thank you berry much,” said Mrs K R. “Now I’ll have ‘Incense and Peppermints’ ear-worming me all day.”
“’Who cares what games we choose/Little to win, but nothing to lose,’” I said. “Jeez, haven’t heard that song in decades!”
“’Beatniks and politics, nothing is new/A yardstick for lunatics . . .,’” said Mrs K R. “Let’s not go there. It might make me think about the present.”
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