One bite of this salad and you are transported from icy winter to mild, glorious spring! If you're living in a warm climate this might not matter so much to you right now, but if you're facing yet another day of negative degree wind-chill temperatures and the prospect of yet another snowstorm, even the slightest bit of hope begins to take on epic proportions!
I'm fortunate in the fact that all my kids like salad and so I make it often. Sometimes it's a meal with a piece of bread on the side, sometimes it's a side itself, but generally it's a pretty standard lettuce, whatever-other-veggies-are-around and balsamic vinaigrette dressing regular thing. Not so with this interesting combination of ingredients in both the salad and the salad dressing. There's arugula, peas, strawberries, poppy seeds, mustard and Marcona almonds (my daughter's new love!!) and I'm happy to report that everyone loved this slightly sweet and crunchy breath of springtime!
If you've never had Marcona almonds before, you're going to go nuts for these (sorry, I couldn't resist!). Marcona almonds, imported from Spain are softer and sweeter than the usual almonds we buy and though pricey, these delectable little morsels are worth it. For this salad, they are lightly toasted, which brings out their almondy goodness even more. I couldn't stop myself from pinching them as I was putting this salad together!
Everything comes together easily and is such a wonderful mix of textures and flavors. There's the slight bitterness of the arugula, the sweetness of the peas, the crunch of the Marcona almonds, the tartness of the strawberries,the saltiness of the Parmesan. all coated with a slightly sweet/slightly tangy white wine vinegar, mustard and poppy seed dressing. And then there's the eye-catching color of it all--stunning! Give yourself a much needed break from the dreariness of winter and treat yourself and your loved ones to this beautiful salad!
Strawberry, Almond and Pea Salad
Makes 4-5 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (you can use fresh ones too)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
3 cups baby arugula, washed and dried well
8 oz. fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into slices
1 oz. Parmesan, shaved
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes until golden brown, tossing occasionally during baking process. Set aside to cool.
2. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to boil. Cook frozen peas for about 2 minutes until bright green and tender (5 minutes for fresh peas). Drain and transfer to a colander set in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking more. Drain and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, poppy seeds, and sugar. Whisk in oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
4. Into a large salad bowl, add arugula, strawberries, peas and almonds. Toss with the vinaigrette to coat. Top with the shaved Parmesan and serve.
Note: Recipe adapted from June 2013 edition of Bon Appetit Magazine.