Again and again, simplicity and excellent ingredients win the day here at Scrumptious Street. The other day I was thinking about how much I love the delicately delicious combination of strawberries and champagne. Rushed for time and having none of that beautiful wine on hand, I found a way to feed the craving and my hunger all at once. Here is a look at the resulting "Arugula and Strawberry Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette."
One of the best things about being able to imagine flavors and how things will taste is the excitement I feel beforehand knowing something is going to work. This salad is really very special, quite scrumptious and spectacularly easy. If you've never used champagne vinegar before, my favorite thing about it is that it's so softly tart, so delicately oriented toward sour that it provides necessary acidity to a dressing without demanding a lot of oil to balance out the flavor. It's perfect with strawberries, because you can discern that soft bubbly flavor and the sweetness of the berries respond as much with the dressing as when you're drinking a glass of bubbly and you drop in a berry. I chose arugula for the foundation of the salad, knowing a good peppery bite would be great with the soft-tart-sweetness. I picked a soft and creamy havarti cheese (plain, not dill or herb-spiked) to sprinkle in a little richness without dominating the salad. Havarti is very mild and almost as soft as brie but with more structure, so it was the perfect cheese to use here.
As for the vinegar, there are a large number of exquisite brands out there, I just happened to choose this one since it was labeled as a Sonoma County Harvest Fair Gold Medal Winner. I hadn't tried it before but assumed this award meant it would be fantastic. Indeed it was!
Here's my very simple and wonderful salad recipe:
1 small bunch arugula, washed and dried in salad spinner
8 ripe, fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
1/2 c. havarti cheese, shredded
1 scallion, white and light green only, diced
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. champagne vinegar
1/4 tsp. grey or sea salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1 T. fresh mint, finely julienned
1. Wash, drain and prep vegetables and fruit.
2. In a small bowl, add the scallion, champagne vinegar, salt and white pepper. Stir together and let sit a few minutes so the vinegar starts to soften and break down the scallion. Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil while whisking, to thicken and emulsify the vinaigrette.
3. In a medium bowl add the arugula, strawberries, cheese and fresh mint. Drizzle vinaigrette dressing over the top and toss very gently with your hands.
4. Serve immediately, especially good when served on chilled plates. Savor every bite!