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June 20, 2016

Taste of Summer: Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Herbs, Goat Cheese and Pecans

by Amanda MacMillan

Summer is a fantastic time to shop a farm stand or farmers market -- especially in New York State.

“There are so many amazing things in the farmers markets this month,” says Patty Sobol, Northern Westchester Hospital executive chef and 2016 winner of Northwell Health’s annual Ultimate Healthy Cooking Challenge. “All the soft leafy greens and herbs are available, plus there are radishes, summer squash, strawberries, beets, asparagus and peas. In the next few weeks we should start seeing Jersey blueberries -- I like to use them in my rhubarb pie instead of strawberries.”

Fresh produce is more than just delicious. Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, cut your risk of certain kinds of cancer and help you keep your weight where you want it.

For an easy, delicious way to use some of this season’s bounty, try one of Sobol’s favorite recipes. You can whip up this restaurant-quality salad in no time using ingredients from your local market (find one at LocalHarvest.org) plus a few grocery-store staples.

Strawberry Spinach Salad With Chive-Mint Oil and Lemon Poppy-Seed Dressing

Ingredients

For the salad:

6 cups washed spinach

1/2 pint sliced strawberries

2 - 3 oz. goat cheese

1/8 cup pecans

1 bulb fennel

 

For the chive-mint oil:

1 bunch fresh chives

8 - 10 mint leaves

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

 

For the dressing:

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons poppy seed

2 teaspoons honey

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

1. Toast the pecans: On a small baking sheet, toast pecans in the oven at 325 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven to cool, then chop roughly.

2. Make the dressing: In a blender or food processor, blend garlic, lemon juice, mustard powder, and poppy seed. Drizzle in the honey and blend until emulsified; do the same with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, then pour into a bowl.

3. Make the chive-mint oil: Rinse the blender or food processor. Add chives and mint, then slowly pour in the olive oil and blend just until smooth. Using a double-mesh strainer, strain over a bowl for 3 to 5 minutes. Discard the remaining herb puree.

4. Prep the produce: Wash the spinach and spin dry. Clean, hull, and slice strawberries. Thinly slice fennel, first cutting the bulb in half and using a V-cut to remove the core. (Trim fronds and set aside to use as garnish.)

5. Make the salad: Place the washed spinach in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, toss the strawberries and fennel with 3 to 4 teaspoons of chive mint oil, then add to spinach. Pour half the dressing over top (save the rest for later), add goat cheese and chopped pecans and toss. Garnish with fennel fronds, and enjoy!