With Easter and Mother’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to share a new salad I’ve fallen in love with this spring. It’s called a “Tricolore” Salad with Strawberry Dressing. If you love Italian food like me, you are already acquainted with the Caprese Salad, that lovely combination of buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomatoes drizzled with balsamic. It’s a fantastic salad, the perfect start to any meal, but in the version below, you swap balsamic for a light, refreshing dressing made with little more than fresh berries and oil, add in some creamy avocado, and your Italian appetizer is now an easy entree for a hard to please vegetarian, a side for your gluten-free guest, or as my husband and I had it – an easy dinner for 2 that celebrated all the great produce that has flooded back into the market this spring.
The inspiration to make this dish came from a great book, The Flavor Thesaurus a Compendium of Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook. Not a normal book to curl up with by the fire, it is exactly what the title says – a thesaurus, a reference guide to food and flavor. As I learned in this book, tomatoes and strawberries have quite a few flavor compounds in common, and strawberries have an acidity that can allow you to skip the vinegar for your dressing! Who knew? Ok, not me until a couple weeks ago, but it does finally explain all those strawberry bruschettas I was seeing pop up here and there!
So, if you’re looking for a quick dish that will wow your guests this spring, here it is! No heat involved, just a little blending and slicing.
In a food processor or blender, blend the strawberries until smooth, then drizzle in equal portions of the olive oil and sunflower oil, slowly until it is a nice smooth sauce. You may not need quite all 2/3 cup of oil, so if you see the oil isn't incorporating as well towards the end, just stop adding oil and move on.
Season the dressing with the salt, pepper, and honey. Feel free to add more of any of them after tasting your dressing. The level of sweetness or acidity in the strawberries you're using will vary wildly from mine, so be sure to taste as you go - if it has too much bite, add more honey, if it is super sweet, add a bit of salt and pepper.
Remove the skin and seed from the avocado, and slice it quickly, then pour the lemon juice over all sides of your avocado slices, to keep them from browning.
Next, slice the tomatoes and mozzarella in thick slices (or dice it up if you'd rather toss everything together!).
Arrange your slices in a ring as I did, or in little stacks for each person (you can also just toss it together if you diced everything).
Pour over the dressing (you should have double the amount of dressing you need, so you can use the leftovers another time, or put it on a spinach salad tomorrow!).
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