When the weather’s warm, you can usually find John and me out on our front porch, eating meals, drinking cocktails, and taking in our view of the Cascades and Lake Washington. Life is hard, you know? One of my favorite summer time meals is making a big bowl of steamed clams, served with a loaf of crusty bread for dipping, a couple of glasses of wine, and a really fresh tasting salad. I frankly can’t think of a meal that feels more like summer than that one.
With that in mind, we had our first quintessential summer meal of the season this past weekend. Clams? Check. Wine? Check. Salad? Well, here’s where the CSA was a big help. With a bunch of fresh peppery arugula and a pint of strawberries, the salad was practically made while it was still in the delivery box. In the spirit of waste not, want not, I decided to enhance the salad by lightly toasting cubes of multigrain bread in leftover compound citrus zest butter from the other night. Our garden helped out a ton too by adding some additional arugula and some tarragon which paired nicely with the sweet, juicy berries.
I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to eat salad! The arugula was crisp and peppery. With a slightly heavy hand with the black pepper in the dressing, the zing from the greens and in the dressing highlighted the sweetness of the berries. The croutons were faintly nutty and had a hint of acid from the zest that mirrored the acid from the balsamic dressing. Lastly, the tarragon’s licorice taste cut through all those flavors, leaving a refreshed palate after every bite. Yep– summer’s here and I can’t get enough of it!
Note: I suspect this salad would be better if the strawberries macerated for a little bit in the balsamic dressing so I’m accounting for that in the instructions below even though I wasn’t smart enough to think of doing that before I made this. This made to large-ish side salads.
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 slice 12 grain bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon citrus chive butter
- 1 large bunch of arugula, stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Slowly whisk olive oil into balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in honey, salt and pepper. Add sliced strawberries and gently mix to coat the berries. Set aside.
Melt compound butter in a small skillet over medium low heat. Add the bread cubes and lightly toss to coat each piece. Do not disturb pieces while they toast on one side, about 5-6 minutes. Flip the pieces over and let them toast on the other side. Remove from heat when each crouton is lightly golden on both sides.
Wash and spin dry the arugula then plate. Drizzle the strawberries and dressing over each plate of greens then top with croutons and a sprinkle of tarragon.
CSA Count: 3
Arugula, strawberries, chives
Garden Count: 3
Fresh thyme, tarragon, and arugula