The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

Model T Dancing and Spinach, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Cheese

A few years ago, we went to an extravagant wedding and reception at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. Greg’s Purdue band buddy, Jason, and his cool wife-to-be, Lief, decided to wed in style. She had pet rats and a punk hairstyle that I loved and he was the vanilla in this swirl cone. (You know, swirl cone couples where one is spunky and the other is kind of vanilla and tame…I love both flavors.) We haven’t seen them since sadly, they are in another state doing their thing. Fun couple.

I had been to the museum a few times before for school trips and with family but it was Greg’s first time visiting. This celebration probably cost over $60,000. There was a live big swing band, décor that would make you cry from its beauty, a chocolate fountain, a coffee bar, great catering, free drinks, a dessert table that never ended and we had the run of the museum. Greg and I danced among the vehicle exhibits, including Presidential rides. We had such a great time. Like most receptions, my shoes came off and we boogied. The next day, we went back to reality and sore feet. Boo.

I wish my reality had a chocolate fountain and coffee bar with some expensive catering and a live band. Actually, it would just be nice to have my own washer and dryer…I’m really not liking the laundromat but it’s the cheapest option. It never fails that a child comes over and screams in one of our faces or jumps from the folding table, which could definitely do the kid damage if something were to go wrong and it seems that Greg and I are the only ones watching these kids…usually in the eyesight of his or her parent. Nice parenting, ass.

As I was saying, if we ever get to have the wedding that we desire, it will involve great food and a live band plus the opportunity to have a memorable time in a place you wouldn’t expect…but we’re more nature adoring people so probably in a vineyard or something with a view…not a view of a Model T.

One of my favorite dishes served at the wedding was similar to the recipe I’m providing today: spinach, asparagus and strawberry salad with walnuts, feta (or blue cheese) and balsamic vinegar. I’d never had a combination like this before and it surprised me that I liked the flavors together.

When asparagus season is upon us and the strawberries are looking great, this dish makes an appearance in our home. I think the caterers paired the salad with blue cheese crumbles and didn’t place it over spinach-I don’t recall it placed over a bed of anything. However, I didn’t have blue cheese so I used feta and that was a tasty addition with the walnuts but use any cheese (goat cheese would be nice too) that suits your palette.

Spinach, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

Spinach, Asparagus and Strawberry Salad
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. asparagus, rinsed, trimmed and cut in half (the end of the spears will snap where it changes from tender to tough when bent-get rid of those tough ends)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (white will work too or a fruit infused vinegar)
8 oz. spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
8 oz. strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup chopped toasted (or not) walnuts- bake at 350 for 5 minutes but watch carefully
2 to 3 oz. crumbled blue cheese or feta (goat cheese would work)

Preheat the oven to 400. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet and add asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, spread in a single layer and bake until tender for 15 minutes or so. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the vinegar and the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the walnuts, sliced strawberries and cooled asparagus. Toss to coat and add the spinach. Taste and add salt/pepper if needed. I usually plate the salad and then crumble the cheese over the top so that the juices from the strawberries don’t bleed onto the cheese before serving but you can toss it in ahead if you’d like.

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