Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring Strawberries

Although the plants in my garden haven't yet produced ripe strawberries, only little green ones, the strawberries from Watsonville, just south of San Francisco, have started to arrive in the stores. It's time for strawberry delights.

Over the weekend I was in L.A. for the annual P.E.O. Conference. I attended as a delegate last year when it was in San Jose and was again a delegate. I won't take up time on the conference itself, but do want to show you the dessert from Saturday night, which was the main banquet.

It's a white chocolate box, topped with a glazed strawberry and plated over a swirl of strawberry syrup. Inside the little box are four thin layers of vanilla sponge cake, each layer separated by lemon buttercream, and the layers had a brush of strawberry syrup before the buttercream was applied. The cake was delicious, but the white chocolate box was difficult to eat, although very pretty.

Now that I'm home again, it's time to eat some spring greens, too. Today for lunch I had a salad of fresh mixed greens, sliced fresh strawberries, grilled chicken slices, and a sprinkle of candied walnuts. The dressing was a raspberry vinaigrette made with walnut oil. Light and tasty.

Strawberry and Chicken Salad
Serves 2

2 large handfuls of fresh mixed greens, washed and dried
6 medium to large fresh ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
1 chicken breast
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup candied walnuts
Strawberry-Walnut Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Place one large handful of fresh greens on each person's plate.

Slice the strawberries. If large, cut through the slices to make smaller pieces. Place half of the strawberry slices on each plate, scattering evenly over the lettuce. Set aside

Heat a small cast iron skillet over medium-hot heat. (if you prefer, use a non-stick skillet and less or no oil). Add the grapeseed oil and allow it to heat. While oil is heating, butterfly the chicken breast so that the pieces are more even in thickness. Sprinkle with the garlic salt.

Place chicken breast in hot oil and cook until just opaque and lightly browned on one side, about 3-5 minutes depending on size of the chicken breast.
Remove from the pan to a cutting board and slice into bite sized slices. Place half of the chicken slices on each salad. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the nuts on each salad and dress with the Strawberry-Walnut Vinaigrette to taste.

Serve while chicken is still warm.

Strawberry-Walnut Vinaigrette
6 medium to large fresh ripe strawberries
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup walnut oil (or olive oil if unavailable)
salt and pepper to taste

Dice the berries, then mash them with a fork in a small bowl. Rub through a food mill or fine mesh strainer, retaining the juices and discarding the seeds.

In a bowl large enought to whisk in, place the strawberry juice and vinegar. Whisk in the oil until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Keep any remaining in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator.


  1. Oh what a excellent salad.That dessert you had was beautiful.

  2. That box is so beautiful!
    The salad sounds yummy too...we have had man a nice strawberry around these parts.

  3. Strawberries in salads are my favorite! And that dessert does look gorgeous, although I could see how it would be difficult to eat.

  4. Elle that salad looks like it would be a perfect complement to that white chocolate box! Love the strawberries.

  5. What a lovely spring time salad. The strawberries just make it shine!

  6. Anonymous11:21 AM

    That dessert looks so cool!
    I just bought some strawberries from Watsonville yesterday that I plan on using for a dessert today. I may have to buy more to make this salad.