Strawberry Cucumber Salad with Lime Dill Vinaigrette

Strawberry salad with cucumbers kohlrabi and lime dill vinaigrette

Last week at the farmer’s market next to my office building, I found my first local strawberries of the season.  Oh, how I’ve impatiently waited for this day.  I loooove strawberries.  I can eat a full litre basket of them in one day.  But the strawberries that are worthy of gluttony are local ones.

Local strawberries are so different from the berries available the rest of the year at the grocery store (imported from Florida and California) as to seem to be an almost entirely different fruit.

Grocery store berries are varieties that travel well.  They aren’t necessarily fully ripe when picked, but they hold their shape well and they have a relatively long shelf life (for berries).  Flavour isn’t the major factor when choosing varieties of strawberries that will face long distance travel.

The varieties of strawberries that are grown locally, and sold locally, are all about the flavour.  They are usually a smaller berry.  What these berries lack in size they make up for in flavour.  These berries are  sweet and juicy.  They can easily be damaged when packed into containers, and because they are fully ripe when picked, they will spoil relatively quickly.  I’m not usually too worried about spoiled berries, as I tend to eat them very quickly.

I was eager to go to the farmer’s market on my lunch break on Thursday, as I was certain there would be some strawberries.  I was not disappointed.  Two vendors had some.  Score!  I bought a basket from each.  I had big plans for the berries.

local strawberries

In addition to the strawberries, there were other great finds at the market.  Aren’t the baby beets and kohlrabi cute?

fresh local vegetables, cucumbers, kohlrabi, baby beets and spring mix

Equipped with the strawberries and fresh vegetables, once home I put together this strawberry cucumber salad.  This salad has no leafy greens in it.  It’s still a salad though.  I’ve been enjoying lots of leafy green salads this spring, but thought it was the time to branch out.

In order to give the salad a bit of crunch, I added some kohlrabi.  If you don’t have kohlrabi, you could use carrots, celery or sweet peppers.  Or you could add some seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower.

One of the great things about salad is that it doesn’t need to follow a set formula.  You can throw in what seems appealing or what you have on hand.  No two salads are ever exactly alike, which is great, as it keeps things exciting.

One thing I have learnt about creating a good salad.  The choice of vinaigrette has a big impact on the final result.  I was quite selective when choosing vinaigrette for this salad.  I used dill in the vinaigrette as dill goes very well with cucumbers, and with strawberries.  I like citrus in my vinaigrette, and the citrus of the moment is lime.  The tartness of the lime is a good counterpoint to the sweetness of the berries.

strawberry and cucumber salad with lime and dill vinaigrette

You may be familiar with the current trend of mason jar salads.  You may even love mason jar salads.  I don’t.  I don’t like the idea of packing my salad so tightly into such a small space.  I also don’t want my dressing in my salad hours, or even days, before I eat it.  And the final nail in the coffin for me is that mason jars are just too darn heavy!  I take the bus to work, and I don’t need the extra weight of the glass jar when the bus is full and I have to stand the whole way home.  Give me these lightweight containers that have lots of space and keep the dressing nicely segregated from the salad until I am ready to eat it any day.

vinaigrette lime dill

All that said mason jars do have a role to play in salads.  But for the vinaigrette.  A small mason jar is the perfect vessel for making the vinaigrette and storing it.  Place or pour all your ingredients directly into the jar, put on the lid and shake the jar.  Voilà, a jar of vinaigrette.  If you have more vinaigrette than you will use during that one meal, simply put the lid back on and put it in the fridge.  You now have vinaigrette to use over the course of the upcoming week.

 

Recipe:  Lime Dill Vinaigrette

Makes about 1/3 cup (85 mL)

recipe for lime dill vinaigrette

 

Ingredients:

  • Juice of one lime (about 1 ½ tablespoons, 22 mL)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients into small mason jar (250 mL), place lid on jar and shake until well mixed.
  2. Store leftover vinaigrette in fridge for up to about one week.

 

Recipe:  Strawberry Cucumber Salad

lime dill vinaigrette with strawberry cucumber salad

Ingredients:

  • Strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped into quarters
  • Cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • Kohlrabi, peeled and chopped into matchsticks

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in large bowl and pour lime dill vinaigrette over it.
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Mexican Inspired Black Bean and Corn Salad

Mexican Inspired Black Bean and Corn Salad with Cilantro and Lime Vinaigrette

Inspiration for meals can come from many different places. This black bean and corn salad was inspired by the bunch of beautiful cilantro that came in my first vegetable CSA (community supported agriculture) box this season.

Fresh cilantro, also known as coriander

Cilantro is often used in Mexican food. So is corn.  I have some sweet, incredibly tasty corn in my freezer from a local farm.  The corn was processed at the farm right after it was picked last summer and it tastes just like corn on the cob at the peak of the season.  I knew I had to use it for this dish.

I chose black beans and bell peppers to round out the salad. For the vinaigrette, I chose limes.  Limes, cilantro and corn.  You can’t go wrong with that combination.  And so this Mexican inspired black bean and corn salad was born.

During the summer, I love serving salads as a meal. On a hot day, I don’t want to slave over a hot stove or turn on the oven.  Salads are a great alternative.  There is no need to be limited to leafy green salads, as this black bean and corn salad shows. It’s packed with protein and fibre, so makes for a satisfying meal.  I served mine in tortilla bowls, making it really feel like a meal.  Alternately, you could forego the tortilla bowls and serve it as a side to accompany grilled meat or tacos.

I highly recommend squeezing your own fresh lime juice for this vinaigrette.  I always keep a few limes in the fridge, because fresh lime juice has such a nice flavour compared to bottled.

A quick tip to get the most juice out of your citrus fruit, in this case, the limes.  Take your limes out of fridge a few hours before you need them (you can even take them out in the morning before going to work) to let them get to room temperature.  Before cutting limes to juice them, roll them between your palm and the counter, gently pushing down.  This technique will produce much more juice than if you use cold limes.

 

Recipe: Mexican Inspired Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad inspired by the flavours of Mexico

Lime Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (60 mL) lime juice (from 2 to 3 large limes)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Squeeze lime juice into medium size bowl, removing any seeds. Add cumin, paprika, chili powder and salt. Whisk.
  2. While still whisking, gradually pour in olive oil and whisk until well blended.

 

Black Bean & Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup corn kernels
  • 1 can (19 oz, 540 mL) black beans, no salt added
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced small
  • 4 green onions (scallions) white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 cups packed cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
  • Lime vinaigrette
  • Tortilla bowls, optional

Directions:

  1. If using frozen corn, add ½ cup water to small pot. Add corn and bring water to a boil. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and let corn cool to room temperature.
  2. In large bowl, add black beans, peppers, onions, cilantro and corn. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Stir lime vinaigrette and pour into salad bowl. Toss until all ingredients evenly coated.
  4. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours before serving, so that ingredients absorb flavour of vinaigrette.
  5. If serving as a main dish, serve salad in tortilla bowls.