A Showstopping Salad with Strawberries and Blackberries.
As you can see, there are only a few ingredients in this salad, but this particular combination is one of my favorites. I’d happily eat this anytime. For the dressing, I combined my favorite calamansi vinegar with some buttermilk, olive oil, a little mustard, nigella seeds and seasoning. What a great dressing this is. That tinge of sweetness from the vinegar is superb when balanced with buttermilk. The slight onion flavor of nigella seeds provided a perfect little hit of flavor, too.
As I was putting this together in my head I realized I wanted some candied almonds for a crunchy topping. My son and I were tossing around ideas for adding some additional flavor and he suggested juniper. I immediately knew it would be perfect. So, we ground up some dried juniper berries and added them to the sugar syrup as the almonds were candying.
It is so easy to candy nuts in a non-stick skillet. The entire process takes about 10 minutes. You can use granulated or brown sugar, add assorted flavorings, etc. In this case, I didn’t want the deep flavor of brown sugar as I thought it would be wrong for the spinach and berries. I wanted the nuts to be lighter tasting and stuck with granulated sugar. What a beautiful addition the juniper turned out to be. It’s delicate, but adds a unique element to the overall flavor profile of the salad. You won’t use all the nuts in this salad, so you’ll have some left for nibbling.
I’ve mentioned it many times, but I think it bears repeating: When I make this kind of salad, I keep everything else very very simple. There is so much flavor and texture going on with the salad, only the simplest accompaniments are needed. Grill some chicken, lamb chops, pork tenderloin, etc. Or how about some sausages? Any of those would work and you have a little extra time to spend making a salad that will steal the show.