Spinach, Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad from Isabelle Farm
If you live in Colorado, you know how bananas the weather around here is – one minute the sun is shining and the next – Bam! A snowstorm. Which is exactly what happened to us this week. On Monday we were picnicking with friends for dinner at a local park, donning shorts, tank tops and sandals, and enjoying the 80-degree weather. By Thursday, we had pulled our snow boots back out, had on heavy coats, and were trudging through the 5 feet of snow that was dumped on us.
Did I mention that this is the 3rd week of May, people?!? My kindergartener will be done with school for the summer next week. This shouldn’t be happening! Which just goes to show - Mother Nature do what she wants.
But, despite all of that, there is a shift in the air that is turning to real summer. Earlier in the week (due to the gorgeous weather we had been having) I was feeling all the summer vibes and hungry for a light and fresh salad – one that would get us all excited about the upcoming months free of schedules and full of sun.
Little did I know I would be eating it in a snowstorm, but hey, you take what you get. And this spinach, strawberry and goat cheese salad did do its part lift my mood out from beneath the weight of the all that snow.
I had stopped over at Isabelle’s farm stand in central Lafayette early in the week and picked up some gorgeous looking spinach. I wanted to bring to mind the sweetness of summer, but didn’t want a salad that was too heavy, so I landed on a strawberry and goat cheese salad, topped with candied walnuts.
The result? Earthy spinach, fresh and juicy strawberries, creamy goat cheese, and the crunch of sweet walnuts, all topped with a sweet balsamic vinaigrette. Perfect! Summer here we come (even if it’s taking us just a bit longer to get there.)
Spinach, Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad
For the salad
Large bunch of fresh spinach
1 cup of fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved
1 cup of whole or halved walnuts
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp butter
¼ Goat cheese (or just enough to add a few dollops to each bowl of salad)
For the dressing
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the spinach, strawberries and red onion in a bowl and set aside. (A note about the red onion – a little goes a long way in this salad so be careful not to over do it. I used ¼ of the onion but you may want to use less depending on your tastes.)
Make the candied walnuts. Over low/medium heat, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the sugar and a tiny dash of salt. Mix in the walnuts and stir so that the butter and sugar mixture coat the nuts. Continue stirring over medium heat until the mixture caramelizes on the nuts (about 5 minutes). Watch these carefully as they can burn very quickly. Let walnuts cool completely.
Mix the dressing. Add all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk until combined. (See how easy it is to make your own dressing! You’ll never have to buy it at the supermarket again!)
Add the walnuts to the salad mixture and separate into bowls.
Add 2-3 small clumps of goat cheese to each salad bowl.
Top each bowl with the dressing and serve!
Isabelle Farm Stand is located at 1640 West Baseline Road, Lafayette, CO 80026 and is open to the public all year-round, Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.