Delicious seasonal confusion

I don’t know what has been up with my appetite lately… one day pretty uninterested by food other than the occasional bit of fresh fruit, the next consumed with dreams of confectionery and the sweetest of sweet things… all culminating in this salad.

So strawberries in a salad may not be new to some of you, and balsamic strawberries seem to be the in thing. But I had never done it before – I have to admit, when I get my hands of some strawberries all I want to do is enjoy them totally unadulterated.

But as I mucked around the kitchen today making packed lunches for my massage therapy training course this weekend, I knew I couldn’t have another day of smoothies and fruit, and I had some spinach and mushrooms lurking in the back of the fridge/my mind. But I really wanted something sweet, something creamy, but also something tangy and crunchy!

It was like that cartoon lightbulb moment. I know better than to question my gut feel when I am in the kitchen.

Now, as usual, this post isn’t a recipe because I don’t “do” recipes. It is just a little inspiration for you to go out, find some much better food blogs, and experiment with the ingredients that need to be eaten or that just tickle your fancy. Because eating is all about tickling your fancy (note, not pounding the hell out of your fancy – everything in moderation, folks).

Strawberry spinach saladInto my bowl went fresh spinach, a small handful of cubed oven-roasted sweet potato (roasted with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt and paprika), four quartered and lightly roasted white cup mushrooms, a handful of fresh sliced strawberries, and about half a dozen lightly toasted walnuts crumbled into pieces.

Over the whole lot went a generous dash of balsamic vinegar, a light drizzle of olive oil, and a crackle of black pepper.

Somehow, by some odd miracle, it worked! The flavours came together to be so much more than the sum of the ingredients – tangy sweetness from the strawberries, smooth warmth from the sweet potato, earthy juiciness from the mushrooms, crisp summery refreshment from the spinach, and slightly creamy crunch from the walnuts. I hate writing like this but it’s the only way to describe it, it really was all very good.

Oh, yeah, and pretty damn healthy too. Vitamin C, folic acid, healthy omega-3 fats, and obviously a whole range of other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. In a deceptively filling 300kcal package, or thereabouts.

But what amuses me most about this salad is that it completely sums up the weather we’ve been having – it’s not quite a summery salad because of the roasted vegetables and in particular the sweet potato, it’s obviously not a winter salad because its defining features are strawberries and tender spinach. Either way, it’s an easy recipe to throw together and would be delicious with various other additions. I’m thinking avocado. But then, I always think avocado.

Now, I wouldn’t believe me either. Strawberries, in a salad? A salad, so exciting you needed to get straight online and blog about it? I know how this looks. But just try it. And save me a sample!

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