Early June brings a heady explosion at the farm stand — baby salad greens, stalks of rhubarb, floppy bunches of basil, a few early hothouse tomatoes, and... impossibly red, sweet-tart strawberries. A few perfect specimens have made their debut at Killdeer Farm Stand in Norwich, and it's hard not to eat them at every breakfast, slice them into every salad and even smash them into every cocktail.
Reading about this scrumptious salad from Warren's Common Man Restaurant had me thinkin' about my own, more pedestrian version, dormant since last summer and ripe for resurrection. Peppery arugula is a natural bedfellow for fruit, watermelon especially, but since melons are still just swellings on the vine (at least around here), strawberries toe the line in seductive fashion. If you dress the greens simply with a lemon-and-white-balsamic-vinegar dressing, then load on a handful of toasted almonds, some sliced strawberries and crumbles of soft, salty feta, you'll steer your culinary magic carpet straight to heaven.
Arugula, Strawberry & Feta Salad
handful of almond slivers
1 garlic clove
1 sprig of fresh oregano
splash of white balsamic vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups arugula greens
handful of fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh feta (I prefer goat's milk feta)
Place a small pan over very low heat and spread almond slivers in one layer. Keep an eye on them as they toast, stirring occasionally so that they brown evenly. Remove from heat once they've fully browned, about 4 minutes. Remove to a bowl and let cool. (And try not to eat them all as you prepare the rest of the salad.)
Place a slightly smashed garlic clove, a pinch of coarse sea salt, a dribble of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprig of fresh oregano into a bowl or mug. Mash into paste with a mortar or the blunt back of a kitchen utensil. Squeeze in juice of one lemon, add a splash of white balsamic vinegar, then whisk in olive oil to taste. Let the flavors mingle.
Rinse and pat dry arugula if necessary, then pile into an oversize salad bowl. Trim strawberry tops, and slice into 1/4-inch-wide slivers, adding to the greens. Sprinkle on almonds and crumble feta into salad with your hands. Remove garlic clove and oregano from dressing, whisk to reblend, then drizzle over salad. Toss well and serve.