A day in the Strawberry Patch and Strawberry, Spinach salad recipe.

There are a few times a year when I absolutely LOVE living in Ontario.

The first is when I can strap my skis on and glide down a beautiful snow veiled hill [or if I am lucky – mountain]. The second arrives just about the same time as summer:

STRAWBERRY SEASON!!!

strawberry season

strawberry fields forever

What a delight! Fragile, fresh, little red bundles of deliciousness. Who DOESN’T enjoy a fresh Ontario berry?

So when these esteemed berries pop their little heads up on this side of the globe, you can be SURE I am out there gathering them up! And that is precisely what I did this past Sunday, or the first day of summer, with my lovely friend Michael.

Being from London I had a really hard time finding a good, local farm to explore. But, luckily, Michael comes from a long line of strawberry pickers [or something…], so he was able to call up a relative and we had the perfect place – Andrew’s Scenic Acres. http://www.andrewsscenicacres.com/

It was a place that I had found online, but was unsure of as it was a bit of a drive. So Mr. Michael came to pick me up in his big truck, you know, so we could fill it up with berries, and we were on our way.Β  [Disclaimer – we did not fill the truck up with berries, I WISH].

After about a 45 minute drive we were there!!! And there wasn’t a parking spot in sight, especially not one for a big ol’ truck. But, like always, we managed to squeeze ourselves in and we were on our way to the patches. As we made our way closer to the front gates I was able to take in the vast fields, and the 89356380465 people out picking MY berries. They also had a really cute little strawberry festival going on where kids could go on pony rides, enjoy ice cream and the adults could sample some of the delicious wine from their on site scotch block winery! Oh yah, did I forget to mention that this place has a winery!!!

So we grabbed a basket [I totally blanked and forget to bring my own, what a waste] and made our way towards the giant tractor hay ride, but opted to get some exercise and walk our skinny butts back there! This was, BY FAR, the biggest strawberry patch that I have ever had the pleasure of picking ❀

We were rather smart and went all the way to the back, and headed down an area that was virtually untouched by the many other “strawberry hunters” around us! The sun was in full force that day,Β  only passing behind the clouds for a few short moments at a time. Ideally, I would have been outside at 7am picking berries, but we had no coffee that morning and had to walk over to Starbucks [right across the street, yes I am spoiled] to get some ground for our french press! The french press is a WHOLE other post πŸ˜›

SO, after a couple hours of STUFFING my face, I mean basket, with delectable, local strawberries, we had had our fill and decided to make our way back towards the front. I really think they need to weigh you BEFORE and AFTER leaving. I had a lot of berries in me. And probably some dirt, and maybe a bug or two. MMmm Protein.

We poked around inside for a few minutes looking at all the appetizing fresh creations they had to offer. I was mostly just getting ideas…I don’t buy those crappy, already made desserts from the grocery store anymore. I do, however, rip off their ideas and make them into my own, but so much better. Inspiration is ALL around us ❀

FIVE POUNDS OF STRAWBERRIES [each] later we were making our way towards the wine samplings πŸ™‚ OKAY. So I’m not a drinker. I just don’t like it. Plain and simple. BUT, they had this delicious Raspberry Rhapsody wineΒ  [made with their 2008 grapes] and it was quite pleasant, quite pleasant indeed! After the raspberry wine, the wine sampling gentlemen insisted that I try every other kind they had [hey, you trying to get me drunk here fellas?], and I politely accepted. It’s not every day you have someone in front of you willing to explain every little detail about a wine [or anything]Β  and I quite enjoy learning new things, so I sipped and enjoyed the lesson. Quite informative AND tasty πŸ™‚

What a wonderful day in the sun with my friend. And what a wonderful prize of berries we had acquired πŸ™‚

But what to do with FIVE POUNDS OF STRAWBERRIES after spending a day in the sun? [I’m waaaaay too fair and sensitive for this disgusting heat – I was feeling it].

Well, you gain access to my wonderfully, lovely boyfriend who WASHED AND HULLED EVERY LAST ONE FOR US!!! BAAAAAAAAAAAAM. You get special, gold star boyfriend points for that, which can be redeemed for…well, never mind.

Christopher and I hit up the AMAZING Superstore and got all our supplies together for some delicious creations. Since we had not yet gained access to our glass jars for jam [hey, where’d y’all go?], we decided to try a pleasant strawberry spinach salad, with an amazing creamy strawberry balsamic vinaigrette topped with sesame seeds. Try it, Try it now!!!

Since I like to half every recipe I am trying for the first time, we only ended up with a small portion of this creamy vinaigrette…but it was scrumptious and tangy, with more than just a hint of strawberry! A definite keeper, and one I am dying to pass along!

So here it is! ENJOY ❀

Strawberry Spinach Salad in a pink bowl <3

Strawberry Spinach Salad in a pink bowl ❀

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

  • 2 Cups Spinach, rinsed, dried and torn into smaller pieces

  • 1 cup sliced Ontario Strawberries [You can use the icky California berries from the grocery store, but it’s totally not the same and I would increase the sugar in this case]

  • 1/4 Red Wine vinegar [you can use balsamic, but all you calorie counters should use the red wine vinegar]

  • 1/4 Tsp Paprika

  • 1/2 Cup EVOO [Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for future reference] [Or vegetable oil for a more neutral flavor, or Canola, Peanut or Sunflower, whatever you have really] ❀

  • 1/3 Granulated Sugar [I definitely switched this out for brown sugar as I always do when only one or the other is used, increase/decrease according to berry flavor]

  • 1 Tsp Sesame Seeds [Be creative, use poppy seeds, nuts, whatever your tastes call for, or whatever you have]

1. Mix together the spinach and strawberries, set aside.

2. If you don’t have a food processor or blender, simply whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika and seeds. Pour delicious mixture over your salad and inhale, I mean enjoy πŸ˜€

Yumm YUMMY Cream Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yumm YUMMY Creamy Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette