Do I really open a blog post by talking about the weather? How cliche. But I think we can all agree that weather affects mood. It certainly affects mine. This past week we've had some blazing hot days - quite unusual for May. I have no room to complain though, as winter was long here and lingered on. It felt good to be outside, laying in the grass, searching for four leaf clovers and almost expecting the chorus cicadas to begin their song. But it's too soon.
When it's impossibly hot and out of character for the time of year, I try to match my food to the weather. Simmering meatballs for 3 hours on a 94 degree day, not so good. A nice refreshing salad with lots of greens and fruit - a very good idea. I used whatever fruit I had on hand, a nice handful of arugula and made a very simple dressing to go along with it.
More than a salad
Once upon a time, a salad for me was defined by iceberg lettuce, ranch dressing and an almost sickening amount of croutons. Sounds alright though and I really did enjoy it. It was more like bread and sour cream and some greens, but that's beside the point. As the years passed, I opened up to the idea of using ingredients that one wouldn't necessarily expect to show up in a salad, such as strawberries.
Strawberries in salad?
With strawberry season quickly approaching, I decided to create a salad that uses plenty of them. After all, strawberries are most luscious, juicy and flavorful when in season. In addition to strawberries this salad is loaded with blueberries, mango and avocado. A sprinkle of crunchy walnuts and a drizzle of cayenne lemon vinaigrette, over peppery arugula, is a warm day's companion. Don't get me wrong, you could absolutely eat this in the dead of winter, but there's something about matching a sticky hot day to a cooling salad. It's also a breeze to throw together, it's vegan, paleo and if you skip the honey, whole 30 as well.
Mix and match
You can also use whatever baby lettuces you like best or even spinach. And if strawberries are not your thing, you can use another berry or skip them all together and mix it up however you see fit.
arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinaigrette
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: none
2 cups arugula, baby spinach or greens of your choice
1/4 cup blueberries
2 tbsp cubed mango
3-4 strawberries, sliced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp honey (skip for whole 30)
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
small mixing bowl
In a small mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients for dressing and set aside.
Next, assemble all ingredients under salad on plate and sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with dressing.