The sun came out and the temperatures broke into the mid-70s over the weekend, folks. It was a glorious, glorious thing and made Saturday an even better day as it was the day of my very good friend’s, Allison’s, baby shower! She is expecting a baby girl in another couple months. A lot of friends from college and I gathered together to spoil the mom-to-be and eat a lot of really yummy food because that is one of the things that we all do best−especially when we’re together!
The food was provided potluck-style, which is something I’m a biiiig fan of. It’s so fun to see what other people like to make and bring to a party and I usually get some new recipe ideas in the process. Some highlights included BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches, cornbread, homemade macaroni and cheese, brie with pecans, cherries and caramel, pink velvet cupcakes (have to get the recipe for these!), lots of veggies, sangria, and punch.
I was given the task of bringing a salad (my friends know me well!) and so I came up with a simple spring-inspired dish that had a nice mix of greens and pinks to coordinate with the color scheme. Plus Allison is a strawberry fan, so it was a nice treat for her, too.
I added some crunch to the salad with toasted almonds and celery. Texture is super important to include when making great salads…trust me on this. You’ve gotta have some crunch along with the creaminess from cheese and soft berries. And yes…that is the salad dressing I made in the mug with a mustached man, if you’re wondering. I dress in style.
I just realized, though, as I’m writing this post that I made a HUGE mistake yesterday and never told Allison that the goat cheese in the salad was pasteurized! This is honestly a lucky accident as I’m new to this whole “my friends are having babies now” thing and realized after buying the cheese that raw, unpasteurized, soft cheeses, like chèvre, are a big no-no for pregnant ladies due to potentially harmful bacteria. Luckily, the one I got was pasteurized, so was fine, but I probably should have mentioned that, eh? Gah! Pardon me while I…
Ok, now that’s done. Well, Allison and M, if you missed out on the salad, I will make it up to you! I think that the non-pregnant women really liked it, though! I got quite a few compliments which was nice. I definitely loved it and it gave me another chance to use the golden balsamic vinegar again. Something about that combo of strawberries + balsamic is just addicting.
I hope you enjoy if you make this. And please make sure to buy pasteurized chèvre if you make this for a baby shower. #rookiemistake
- 3/4 cup sliced raw almonds
- 1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 4 stalks of celery, sliced
- 7 ounces (~8 cups) of arugula, torn
- 4 ounces chèvre (goat cheese)*, crumbled
- 1/4 cup golden (or white) balsamic vinegar*
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 teaspoons agave syrup (or honey)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Heat a small pan over medium heat on the stove and add sliced almonds. Toast for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring a few times throughout the process. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.
- While the almonds toast, slice your strawberries and celery so that the pieces are roughly 1/4" to 1/2" thick.
- Assemble the salad in layers by first placing half of the arugula into a large bowl or serving dish. Top with half of the strawberries, celery, almonds and chèvre. Then, repeat with the remaining amounts of each of the ingredients.
- Just a few minutes before serving, pour the dressing on top and toss lightly.
- In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, agave syrup, salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine together. Stream in olive oil and stir well to combine. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- Cheese note: Remember to check the ingredients or label to determine whether the cheese is pasteurized and ok for serving to moms-to-be!
- Vinegar note: If you don't have golden/white balsamic on hand, feel free to sub in traditional, dark balsamic vinegar.