Spinach and Strawberry Salad Ponchatoula
Yield: 6 servings
Ponchatoula is the strawberry capital of the world. It is surprising to the residents of this sleepy South Louisiana town that the rest of the world considers strawberries a dessert ingredient only. Here, they may be found in soups, sauces, as a flavor ingredient over pork roast or lamb or as the perfect finish to a crisp, crunchy spring salad.
- 10 ounces fresh spinach leaves, cleaned and dried
- 1 pint ripe strawberries, sliced (Chef Folse uses strawberries from Ponchatoula, Louisiana)
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons Boones strawberry wine
- 6 ounces vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Remember to rinse spinach leaves 2-3 times under cold running water to ensure that all sand and grit are removed from leaves. Dry well and set aside. When selecting strawberries for this salad, (Ponchatoula berries are always best) make sure they are slightly over-ripe but not mushy. I prefer to buy a 5-ounce block of Parmesan cheese and hand grate it using the large holes of a grater.
For the strawberry vinaigrette, combine egg yolk, balsamic vinegar and strawberry wine in a stainless steel bowl. Using a wire whisk, combine ingredients until well incorporated. Slowly drizzle the vegetable oil into the egg yolk mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly. The result should be a smooth emulsified dressing. Add thyme and tarragon and season to taste using salt and pepper. Continue whisking until ingredients are well-blended. The dressing may be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.
When ready to serve, toss spinach with extra virgin olive oil and drizzle with the desired amount of strawberry vinaigrette. Once the leaves are shining from the sauce, but not wilted, add strawberries and cheese and toss once or twice to incorporate. Serve in a large, crystal salad bowl to showcase the vivid colors of this salad.