Strawberry Arugula Goat Cheese Salad

Evidently I have a lot of arugula and strawberries. Which is what happens when you have a CSA. Let me explain Community Supported Agriculture as I understand it: basically, the community (i.e. consumer) is sharing the risk of farming with the farmer. You pay upfront for a certain amount of time (say, $350 for 18 weeks) and then each week (although winter ones are different because they are storage crops, and have pick-ups every fortnight or month) you go to the farm or to your pick-up location and collect a box of whatever happens to be in season. If it’s a good season, you will probably save money based on grocery-store prices (and the produce will be fresher and more delicious), although if it’s a bad season, you may not be enjoying as many vegetables as you hoped for. There are also meat, cheese, apple, and poultry (among others, I imagine) CSAs. It’s great for the farmers, because farming can be quite a costly investment and very dependent upon the weather, and the consumer gets super fresh in-season vegetables, sees the farm, probably will save money, and doesn’t have to make decisions at the grocery store. It helps me out a lot, because I don’t feel like I have to really plan menus for the week before going shopping – I just pick up my bags and discover what the week has in store for me. It’s fun because sometimes it does require a little ingenuity, but you get to experiment with ingredients and see what recipes and combinations you like best.

Also, what grows together, goes together. Which is certainly the case with this salad. We had some hot weather and I was really feeling salads, so I found this one by Mark Bittman (who is amazing, by the way, read his things).

P1010567Arugula can be tricky to deal with. In some ways it’s just like lettuce, but it is definitely a little bitter and can be spicy too, so not always for everyone. However, even tossing it lightly with a bit of vinegar does wonders at mitigating overly-strong flavors. You’ll be surprised.

Strawberry Arugula Goat Cheese Salad
Strawberries, hulled and quartered
Balsamic vinegar
Black pepper
Olive oil
Fresh goat cheese

Toss the strawberries, pepper, and vinegar together and let them sit for about 10 minutes, maybe while you get out the cheese and or make some toast to go with it. Add the arugula, salt, and olive oil and toss some more, then top with the goat cheese. Enjoy!

Again, no amounts. Part of preparing food like salads for oneself  is making exactly however much you will eat – once it’s assembled, it won’t last that long, so better if you just finish it all at once. Also, you may prefer more or less vinegar, so you decide. Start with a teaspoon or so and go from there. Also, I put in some mesclun (which is the baby spring mix salad green variety) because I had some that needed using up: you are not limited to arugula.

I added the goat cheese because a) it is delicious and b) it’s an excellent way to make it into a full meal. I’m not a vegetarian but I don’t eat a lot of meat (it is delicious but much more expensive; and also a lot of meat these days has a questionable source and may be full of antibiotics and other problems. I call myself a part-time vegetarian). Some of you meat-and-potatoes folks might be a little skeptical, but salads can make very excellent meals. You will probably have to eat more volume, but they can be quite filling and if you add things like cheese (or nuts/seeds/chick peas, etc), lasting as well.

If you want to make this 4th-of-July appropriate, you could add blueberries, since it’s already got the red and white. They aren’t in season in Maine right now but you can find them frozen if you do want to get local ones. I would suggest putting them straight from the freezer into the vinegar with the strawberries (go easy on the blueberries though, they can easily overwhelm the other delicate flavors). Although you may end up with a purple and white salad rather than red, white, and blue.



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