Happy Monday, everyone!
I hope you all had a fun-filled Fourth of July weekend! I had probably the most “summer-like” weekend that I’ve had in a looong time! Something about bike rides, s’mores, boating, sitting out in the sun, grilling, and having ice cream just screams summer.
It was a wonderful, mini-vacation from work and I’m already feeling a lot more rejuvenated than I was last weekend—plus, my second attempt at jam making yesterday afternoon was a success!
Philip and I started off our long weekend with more strawberry picking! We knew we couldn’t wait much longer if we wanted any more fresh strawberries. We lucked out and hit the tail end of the strawberry season here in Wisconsin (why does the season have to be so short?!). The sweetness of these strawberries are incredible! I’m telling ya, after having these, the strawberries in the grocery store don’t even compare. Besides just canning the strawberries, I’ve been eating them plain, in fruit salads and spinach salads for a sweeter spin.
One of my favorite salads right now is my Strawberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Salmon & Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette. Not only does it have the strawberries that are in season right now, it also has another food that’s “in season”—salmon!
It’s amazing how much better things taste when they’re fresh and in season—if it’s local, it’s even better! Of course, there’s no local salmon in the Midwest, but this is as fresh as they come—and you can definitely taste the difference! This salmon doesn’t even need any seasoning added to it—it’s already brimming with its own great flavor. Wild caught Sockeye salmon from Alaska is only available from June to August (not to mention, is a lot cheaper during this time, too!) and has the richest ruby red color I have ever seen for salmon. And you know what that means? More healthy, Omega-3 fats!
Omega-3 fats help protect our heart, brain, and eyes…something we can all use more of. Sockeye salmon has some of the highest amounts of Omega-3 fats than any other fish because of the algae they feed on—the root source of Omega-3 fats. My best recommendation is to look at the color of the salmon and get wild-caught, if you’re able, that’s rich in color. While all wild caught salmon feeds on algae, farm-raised salmon are usually given color-added feed that’s fortified with Omega-3 fats. The color isn’t as vibrant or deep and the amount of Omega-3 fats aren’t usually as high as wild.
Simply put, rich color = healthy fish for you and me. But never fear, if wild caught isn’t in your price range or at your grocery store (especially in the winter when it’s not in season), farm-raised salmon is better than no salmon or other fatty fish at all. Just do what you can to get at least two servings of fish in a week!
So, back to the salad! Fresh strawberries and salmon are the star of the show, but the supporting cast members are just as important—the dried cranberries, fresh goat cheese (or chèvre), and sliced almonds all on a bed of spinach compliment one another so well. The almonds give some crunch while the fresh chèvre lends a slight tangy-ness and smoothness to the otherwise very sweet salad. Seriously, the flavors all go together so well, I can’t get my mind around it! So. good.
Let’s go back a step. Not familiar with goat cheese? Chèvre (just the French word for goat cheese if you want to sound all sophisticated. Just make sure you pronounce it right—Shehv) is probably most similar to feta in flavor, but it is softer and creamier than feta. It is spreadable like cream cheese and has just a slight tang to it. Nutritionally, it has slightly less fat and sodium than most cow’s cheese (Swiss is also low in sodium) and less lactose for those who are lactose-intolerant.
Last, but not least, is the Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette. This vinaigrette completely puts the salad over the top! Plus, it is so simple to whip together and lightly coats the spinach and salmon to give the whole salad that extra bit of sweetness. It’s one of my favorite vinaigrettes to put on all kinds of salads and the leftovers keep for about a week in the fridge. Trust me, you won’t be needing a week to get through it all, though. It’s easy to double the recipe, but one batch is large enough to make about 4 large individual salads.
You definitely want to give this one a try! This is a double win with the fresh strawberries and fresh, grilled salmon. If summer was described in food—I think this salad would be right up there with corn on the cob and watermelon.
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Salmon & Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
Vinaigrette makes 4 large servings
Salad serves 1
- 2-3 cups spinach, chopped
- 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
- 2 Tbsp chopped almonds
- 1/3 cup strawberries, diced
- 2 Tbsp chèvre (goat cheese)
- 1 3-oz fillet fresh salmon
- Pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp white sugar
- 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp Dijon-style prepared mustard
- 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- Prepare salmon to be grilled or baked. Lightly sprinkle pepper onto both sides of salmon, if desired. To grill salmon, turn grill to moderately high heat. Leaving the skin on the salmon, place skin side down onto the grill (this prevents the salmon from sticking to the grill). Leave the salmon on the grill for about 10 minutes, or until mostly cooked through. Flip the salmon over and cook just slightly (about 1 minute) and remove from grill. As a rule of thumb, grill salmon for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness measured at the thickest part. Salmon is done when the inside reaches 145° with a meat thermometer or when it flakes and it is opaque, not translucent. Before serving salmon, peel off the crisp skin. If desired, take off the grayish flakes, too—this is the “blood line” of the fish and has the most “fishy” flavor to it.
- To make the vinaigrette, combine the sugar, lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl; whisk together. Slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil while whisking to thoroughly mix it into the salad. Stir in the poppy seeds. Keep leftover vinaigrette in the refrigerator. Separation will occur; just shake before use.
- Lastly, combine all the ingredients for the salad together on a large plate or bowl, top the salad with the salmon fillet, and drizzle on desired amount of vinaigrette. Enjoy!