9.14.2015

Strawberry, Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette + the World’s Tallest Wind Chime

Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette
Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette IMG_3525 Landmarks & Trip IMG_3513



Hello, friend.


I write this post in the rain. Technically, I’m not in the rain. It’s raining outside my apartment window as I write this. I think that’s close enough. What can I say, I’m looking for some dramatic literary effect. There is something comforting about a late summer rain. The air is a mixture of chilliness and warmth. The clouds turn black as night, a burnt coal shade of starry-eyed oblivion. The droplets of rain hit gently against the window pane kept perfectly in time to the subtle tips of my fingers on my keyboard. A gentle billow of steam comes ascending upward from my mug of decaf French pressed coffee. A take a sip. Ahhh. The fan above my head slowly spins to the rhythm of electric impulse. The apartment is hushed, and the mood is solemn. The soft notes of the alto saxophone jazz hum smoothly through my speakers. All is as it should be, thanks to the rain. 


For all my American readers, last weekend was Labor Day. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. These reminisce of BBQ’s and open fires still playback in my memories. The holiday always evokes a sense of carefree nature. It also marks the end of summer and beginning of autumn. The fall season is by far my favorite season. The leaves, in their ever-changing shades of yellows, oranges, and reds, fall gently towards the grow. The morning air is crisp. The nights grow colder with every passing cycle of the Moon. The smells of nutmeg and cinnamon fill my kitchen with comfort and memories of seasons past. Pumpkin patches stretch on for miles. The crackle of the fireplace and the aromas of coffee dance warmly in my spirit. 

Over the holiday, my family and I went to a Casey, Illinois to see a parade with one of Momma's friend and her family. Her friend is originally from that area and holds an unhealthy distaste for the variety of roadside attractions in the surrounding area. Landmarks such as “The World’s Tallest Wind Chime”, “The World’s Tallest Rocking Chair”, and “The World’s Tallest Golf Tee” are some of many wonders to see and explore. For my Travel and Tourism class, we were assigned to visit five roadside attractions and one festival in a sixty-mile radius and take a picture of ourselves at that location. My excitement grew as I realized I was going to acquire all my necessary locations in just one weekend. We wandered, we gawked, and we snapped some photos. Our two other stops included the infamous “Mug Tree”, which is essentially a tree on the side of a road with hundreds of mugs attached to it (we can’t make these things up). And the other one the “World’s Largest Knitting Needle and Croquette Hook”. Only in Illinois, my friends. 

Landmarks & Trip Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Landmarks & Trip Landmarks & Trip Landmarks & Trip Landmarks & Trip Landmarks & Trip IMG_3512 Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

Strawberry, Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped                                                                                          Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

As the season change, so do the availability of some of my favorite fruits and vegetables. The days of fresh rhubarb and raspberries are behind us and the season of squash, fresh corn on the cob, and pumpkin reign supreme. With strawberries slowly going out of season in the Midwest, I knew I had mere moments to get a recipe in before they were gone and not on sale. When I moved out, I promised my parents (double promises to Momma Crawford) that I would strive to cook and eat healthier.  With spinach on sale, I was inspired to make a late summer inspired salad. The strawberries gleam of summer reminisces, and the roasted pecans tell of the season to come. The goat cheese added a soft, subtle creaminess to the salad while the homemade balsamic vinaigrette harmonized beautifully with the toasted pecans and the sweetness of the strawberries.  All I can say is, goodbye summer and hello autumn!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup pecans, roasted
  • ¼ - ½ cup strawberries, sliced
  • ¼ balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup olive oil

Directions

  1. In a screw-top jar, shake the vinegar, sugars, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preferred likeness.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and baking tray with pecans and roast until lightly toasted, about 7-8 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through the cooking time to ensure an even roast.
  3. To assemble: to a plate, add the spinach, strawberry slices, goat cheese crumbles, and roasted pecans. Lightly drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over top. Serve immediately.


Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry Roasted Pecan & Goat Cheese topped Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette
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