Spring has finally arrived, and with it the appearance of longed-for exhilarating spring flavors. Like strawberries!
Once you have savored these fresh, ripe berries for breakfast, in a pie, and in a bowl covered with cream, you'll start looking around for other ways to use them.
Might I suggest this simple, yet beautiful, spring salad?
This salad features all four of my favorite flavor components: something sweet (juicy strawberries), salty (fresh feta), crunchy (toasted almonds), and refreshing (cucumbers).
Add one more element of "something unexpected" and you have a salad that really sings. Here, the surprise is the peppery explosion of watercress and radishes and some lively mint. (You could use either mint or basil, or both, depending on what you can find—they add a nice punch to the salad.)
If you are lucky enough to find young watercress with thin, tender stems, you will not need to do anything except rinse and shake off the moisture. For bunches with thicker, tougher stems, just remove the bottom thick ends, and keep the leaves on their upper stems.
And let's not leave out the visuals. Serve this stunning tangle of spring ingredients all by itself on salad plates so you can really show off its beauty. It's almost too pretty to eat! But of course, you should.
Watercress Salad With Strawberries and Feta
If your watercress has thin, tender stems, you will not need to do anything except rinse and shake off the moisture. For bunches with thicker, tougher stems, just remove the bottom thick ends, and keep the leaves on their upper stems.
The almonds can be toasted up to a day ahead of time, but wait to assemble the salad until just before serving.
If you can only find standard cucumbers, cut the cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds in the middle before slicing.
Recipe can be doubled or tripled if needed.
- For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- For the salad:
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1 bunch watercress, any thick stems removed (about 4 cups)
- 1/2 cup packed mint or basil leaves, or a combination of both, roughly chopped
- 16 ripe strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 Persian or English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta
Toast the almonds:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Make the dressing:
In a small bowl whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil. Taste and add more honey, salt, or pepper, if you like.
Assemble the salad:
In a salad bowl, toss the watercress, mint and/or basil, strawberries, radishes, and cucumber with half the dressing. Taste and continue adding additional dressing until the salad is evenly coated with dressing and flavorful.
Top with crumbled feta and toasted almonds, and serve.