Sunday, August 5, 2007

Strawberry and Blue Cheese Salad

Strawberry and Blue Cheese Salad

Remember the strawberry and cheese scene in Ratatouille? Remy first takes a bite of the cheese, which creates an upbeat, robust swirl of flavor. Then he takes a bite of the strawberry and tastes a more delicate, twinkling ripple. But together, they create an exciting taste epiphany that ignites bright yellow and red fireworks that dance and sparkle. For me, my taste epiphany came with the combination of strawberries and blue cheese. The sweet and light summer berry paired perfectly with the strong salty flavors of the blue cheese, each with their own captivating fragrance. Now this may not be a combination for everyone, maybe it's just me (I hope it's not too weird combining blue cheese and strawberries), but I loved every minute of this salad. Sadly strawberry season is nearing an end or already over and this was one of the last dishes that I made with this year's berries.

- At the time I only had Romaine lettuce but I think this salad would have worked much better with baby spinach greens, which are richer and can better handle the strong flavors in this salad.
- Strawberries are often paired with balsamic vinegar so naturally I made a balsamic honey vinaigrette
- I chose berries that weren't extremely sweet because I didn't want them to overpower all the other flavors in the salad.

Strawberry and Blue Cheese Salad

I don't have an exact recipe since salads are more of "throw stuff in" sort of dish for me but the main players are:
Greens: Baby spinach preferably (but Romaine pictured here)
Blue Cheese: I used Danish blue but I'm sure Gorgonzola would have worked also
Pistachios: they added a nice crunch and lively light green color

Bacon: I love bacon, but this salad didn't need it (I used it here though)

Crisp your bacon if using, and set aside to cool on a paper towel lined plate. Crumble before serving.

Crumble your blue cheese, roughly chop the pistachios, quarter the strawberries.

Toss everything together with the vinaigrette.

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 - 1 tsp honey
Freshly ground pepper (no salt because there was enough from the cheese and bacon in the salad)

I add all the ingredients to a small clean jar and shake until everything is emulsified. I find this is the easiest way to make a small amount of dressing. Alternatively you can whisk everything together while drizzling in the olive oil.

Cool Link:
Check out how the tastes visualizations were developed for Ratatouille (the best movie of the summer if not the year, hands down).

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