|Summer Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette|
Last week, Paola and I made the trip out to an organic strawberry farm in Rajamäki called Mattilan Luomumansikkatila. Set out in the countryside between horse pastures and wheat fields, this family run farm has seven varieties of organic strawberries that they sell by the kilo: you can pick them yourself or place an order and they will pick them for you.
|We picked our own – so delicious!|
We told the friendly lady at the picking shack that we were looking to make jam with some and to freeze the rest. She pointed us in the direction of Jonsok for jam (a sweeter, slightly softer berry) and Honeoye for freezing (and drying) because they are slightly tarter and firmer and keep their shape well. Both are early summer berries (that would be July here in Finland!) – which means there are five other varieties ripening out there, waiting to be tried. For those of you in the Uusimaa region – this place is highly recommended. The berries are beautiful, of excellent quality, and just sitting out in the field picking berries in that tranquil setting is a small bit of therapy all by itself. According the lady at the farm, you can still get fresh berries there for 3 more weeks before the season ends.
|Jonsok Strawberries (top) and Honeoye (bottom)|
There are so many things I made with those gorgeous berries that I may need to post about them more than once! But let’s start with the salad.
|Strawberry White Balsamic Vinegar|
In the summer, I eat a lot of salads. The ingredients are fresher than at any other time of the year, and quite often, I’m getting all of the ingredients directly from the farmer. As luck would have it, two weeks before my trek to the strawberry farm, I’d bought a liter of strawberries and had infused them into some white balsamic vinegar. A trip to the cabin brought us by a local farm where we picked up a giant head of fresh lettuce and some cute, crisp cauliflower heads. A visit to the cabin garden delivered spring onions, and I had all I needed for a gorgeous summer salad…with the addition of a little fresh basil from the countertop at home.
Here’s how you do the vinegar:
2 cups / 4 dl of finely chopped fresh, organic strawberries
2 cups / 4 dl white balsamic vinegar
Wash, hull and finely chop fresh strawberries to make 2 cups. Place strawberries in a glass jar that has a tightly fitting lid, and set aside. Heat 2 cups of white balsamic vinegar in a non-reactive pot on the stove until it just reaches a boil (a few bubbles so you know it’s hot; that’s it). Remove from heat and pour the vinegar over the strawberries. Cover the jar tightly with the lid. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 2 weeks, shaking the jar every day. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the berries and discard the pulp. Heat the strawberry vinegar in a non-reactive pan until it reaches a full boil and immediately remove from heat. Decant into a bottle or jar and enjoy. The vinegar will be good for a long time in a cool, dark cupboard, assuming you don’t consume it all right away. This is really good stuff.
This strawberry vinegar & the resulting vinaigrette have a lot of possibilities on any salad, even in the winter. But with fresh greens and fresh strawberries, this salad is all about summer – right here and right now.
|Summer Strawberry Salad|
Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
1 head of lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
1.5 cups / 3 dl chopped fresh cauliflower
2 green (spring) onions, greens chopped
2 cups / 4 dl of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
About 20 basil leaves, julienned
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss a few times with your hands to combine. Add a few whole strawberries and a basil sprig for garnish. Serve with Strawberry Vinaigrette on the side
1/4 cup / 1/2 dl strawberry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons of honey (more to taste if you want it sweeter)
1/2 cup / 1 dl extra virgin olive oil
Combine the vinegar, salt, pepper and honey in a glass jar, cover it tightly with a lid, and shake vigorously to dissolve the ingredients in the vinegar. Add the olive oil and shake again to combine the ingredients well. Serve on the side with the strawberry salad.
The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Shake before serving.
Serves 6 – 8