I love being able to buy fresh, inexpensive berries during the summer! Even though I live in Arizona where fresh fruit and vegetables are available in season pretty much all year around, it can get expensive! Strawberries have been on sale lately and I’ve been enjoying them as often as possible. They were my favorite fruit when I was growing up. My neighbors in Chicago used to have a little garden and they grew strawberries and raspberries and they used to let my brothers and I come over and pick the fruit with them. We used to put them into big cups and eat them right off the vine.
This salad brought me back to those simple days, just updated a little. I love the combination of blue cheese and fruit. The sweetness of the fruit with the bite of the cheese really makes me happy. I thought, why not combine these big, fresh strawberries with some blue cheese in a salad? I had to add bacon, of course, because everything is better with bacon, and I lightly candied some pecans, threw in some spinach and cucumber, and before I knew it, dinner was ready to go! I added dressing to the individual plates because I had enough for leftovers and it kept well as long as it wasn’t dressed. I finished the rest of the salad myself the next day and I honestly wish I had made more. It’s a very filling salad, but not too heavy for summer. I used a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing (with balsamic vinegar that my parents brought me back from Italy) and even Kramer ate this, and he’s usually very wary of salads. Go ahead and throw one together for yourself sometime soon!
Start by frying the bacon in a medium pan so that it has time to cool before you add it to your salad. You can save a few tablespoons of the bacon grease to make into a dressing, too, if you want. When your bacon is ready, remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels and allow to cool.
Melt together your butter and sugar (I ended up using two tablespoons of brown sugar and two tablespoons of butter when I added in the pecans).
Add in your pecans and stir for about 5 minutes just so they become a bit toasted, and set aside to cool.
Chop up your cucumber.
Slice your strawberries.
I squirted a little lemon juice over mine to keep them fresh tasting.
I attempted to supreme an orange but my supremes were pretty butchered so I won’t show you any step-by-step photos because clearly I don’t know what I’m doing, haha. Anyone have any tips?
Toss together your cucumber, pecans, bacon, strawberries, spinach, blue cheese, and oranges.
I just made a simple balsamic-olive oil vinaigrette for this using the delicious balsamic my parents brought me from Italy. It’s so sweet and tasty that I dipped some strawberries in it on their own!
Doesn’t that look like a big bowl of yum?
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- ½ pound raw pecans
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1 pound fresh spinach, washed
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1 orange, supremed
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fry your chopped bacon in medium pan until crisp (about 5-8 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a dish lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
- Melt your butter and brown sugar in a medium pan over medium heat and add your pecans. Stir for about 5 minutes to coat well and toast the pecans a bit. Set aside to cool.
- Slice your strawberries, wash your spinach, slice your cucumber, and supreme your orange (*to supreme means to slice your orange in such a way that no pith - the white stuff - is left on your orange and you have clean slices. It takes practice!). Toss together your cooled bacon, pecans, spinach, strawberries, cucumber, orange, and blue cheese.
- Whisk together your balsamic, olive oil, and salt and pepper if you want (or use whatever dressing you like) and either toss lightly with the entire salad (don't use it all at once - toss a little, check and see if it needs more, and add accordingly to your own tastes) or add to each individual plate. If you have extras and want to keep them, don't add the dressing to the entire salad; store it separately.