It’s just another vegetable and fruit salad but, this time, even the dressing has fruit in it. The strawberry vinaigrette in this vegetable and mandarin orange salad was made with fresh strawberries, sugar, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Strawberry vinaigrette is delicious!
But beyond than the salad dressing, I want to talk about how cheese figures in a salad. Grated Parmesan is good but Parmesan is not the only cheese that go well in a salad. You can use just about any kind of cheese, really, but if you want the flavor to pop, better choose a cheese that is salty rather than bland.
And you don’t need to grate the cheese every time either. Try shaved cheese (a vegetable peeler is the perfect tool for shaving cheese). Or cut the cheese into cubes. Or, if you have a crumbly cheese like feta, then go ahead and crumble it over your salad.
- large handful lettuce (any kind)
- 2 to 3 plump tomatoes
- 1 small cucumber
- 1/2 cup mandarin orange segments (see how to segment an orange)
- herbed croutons
- Your favorite cheese
- 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (you can substitute frozen; no need to thaw but you still need to chop)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (or use honey)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (depending on how tart or sweet the strawberries are)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the lettuce well. If you're worried about the presence of pesticide, there are solutions. Tear into bite-size pieces than dry in a salad spinner.
Cut the tomatoes into halves and scoop out as much of the seeds as you can. Cut the tomato halves into wedges.
Cut the cucumber vertically into halves, then scrape off the seeds. Cut the cucumber into wedges.
Make the strawberry vinaigrette. Place the strawberries, 1 tablespoon sugar (or honey), 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, olive oil, thyme, a generous pinch of salt and a regular pinch of pepper. Process until smooth. Taste. If you need to add the rest of the sugar or vinegar, or both, go ahead and add them. If the dressing needs more salt or pepper, or both, add another pinch or so. Pulse the blender once more to mix everything together.
Place the lettuce, tomato and cucumber wedges, mandarin orange segments and herbed croutons in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle in a couple of tablespoonfuls of strawberry vinaigrette and toss lightly.
Divide the vegetable and mandarin orange salad between bowls. Use a vegetable pepper to shave cheese directly on top.
Transfer the excess strawberry vinaigrette into a tightly covered jar and keep in the fridge. Use within a week.