Spinach and Mesclun Salad w/Fresh Strawberries & Hot Pecans


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Farmers Market Authority
RSA Plaza, Suite 330
770 Washington Avenue
Montgomery, Al 36130

Southern Farmers Mk Cookbook

Spinach and Mesclun Salad with Fresh Strawberries and Sweet-Hot Pecans

The earliest yield of Southern spring harvests include sweet, plump, ripe strawberries and tender leaves of spinach, mesclun, and baby lettuces. Paired with sugar and paprika-coated pecans pulled hot from the sauté pan, a pert vinaigrette and the clean bite of mint, these spring produce belles are as beautiful, yet demure, as can be. If you come across a mellow, soft local cheese, it would be lovely scattered across the top before serving.


14 large strawberries, halved (vertically)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
or the vinaigrette:
     1 shallot, minced
     1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
     1 tablespoon local honey
     1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
     Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups fresh spinach
4 cups mesclun
8 leaves fresh mint


Up to 1 hour before serving, combine the strawberries in a small bowl with the balsamic vinegar. Toss and marinate for at least 30 minutes, but no more than 1 hour. Strain the berries, reserving the juices; place berries in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the vinaigrette, combine the strained juices from the berries with the shallot, mustard, honey, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually incorporate 1/2 cup of the olive oil, whisking well to emulsify. Taste and verify seasonings.

Meantime, in a small sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pecans, sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss and watch, toasting until the nuts turn a light golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.

To serve, toss the spinach, mesclun, minute leaves and a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper together in a large bowl with a light dressing of the vinaigrette (you probably will only need about half – save the rest for later). Serve on individual plates or on a large platter garnished with the marinated strawberries and warm pecans.

Recipe from Southern Farmers Market Cookbook by Holly Herrick (Gibbs Smith, June, 2009)