Courtesy of Myra Goodman, Earthbound Farm
This salad features an unusual combination of flavors—strawberries, tarragon, blue cheese, and mixed baby greens—with spectacular effect. The secret to its success is the strawberry-infused balsamic vinegar, which requires a little time but is well worth the wait. This salad is at its stellar best when you use sweet, organic berries. The recipe makes more than enough dressing for this amount of salad, so you can enjoy an encore later in the week.
Serves 4 as a side salad.
2 pints strawberries, washed and hulled
1⁄4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar, preferably at least 6 years old (optional)
3⁄4 cup tarragon oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
4 ounces Earthbound Farm organic mixed baby greens (5 to 6 cups)
1/2 cup fresh whole tarragon leaves
1⁄4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
3 ounces (1/2 cup) crumbled blue cheese
Prepare the flavored vinegar by mashing three strawberries against the side of a small bowl with a fork. Add the 1⁄4 cup of good-quality balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Set this aside at room temperature to allow the vinegar to absorb the strawberry flavor, 1 to 2 hours. Strain the flavored vinegar through a sieve, pressing to release all the liquid from the berries. Discard the solids and set the strawberry vinegar aside.
Meanwhile, cut the remaining strawberries in half lengthwise so they are bite-size. (If you have larger berries, cut them into quarters.)
Place the berries in a small, shallow bowl, add the 2 tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar, and stir to coat. Set the berries aside to marinate at room temperature, 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (If you do not have a high-quality aged balsamic, skip this step and use the strawberries without marinating them.)
Prepare the vinaigrette by placing the strawberry-flavored vinegar, tarragon oil, mustard, and salt in a glass jar and tightly close the lid. Shake the jar vigorously to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings to taste.
Just before serving, place the mixed greens and tarragon in a large salad bowl and toss to combine. Add 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss to lightly coat the leaves, and taste them to see if more vinaigrette is needed. (Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.)
Transfer the greens to individual salad plates. Arrange the marinated strawberries on the greens and sprinkle them with the nuts and cheese. Serve immediately.