the joy of cooking

This is my favorite easy dinner lately. Strawberries and balsamic dressing on a bed of mixed greens. So simple, fresh, and flavorful! {The recipe...if you can call it come later in this post.}

For those of you who know me well, know that I'm not much of a cook. I have a handful of dishes I know how to make, but I am willing to try almost any recipe. Overall I only have basic kitchen skills and kitchen-triggered ADD. (My head hurts thinking about the number of times I have burnt cookies...simply because I left the kitchen and forgot about them!) And because I live solo I really only grocery shop about once a month or less, which makes for slim pickings in the fridge and A LOT of peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.

That said I love to experiment with flavor combinations. I absolutely love to cook for others, but not really for myself. Does anyone else have this problem? I mean, why not spend a few extra minutes making something healthy for myself? Why is it that I don't take the same time and care when it comes to making my own daily meals?

I suppose it's a little bit about necessity. If I'm not hungry or I am perfectly satisfied with a peanut butter sandwich (don't get me wrong...toasted PBs are my favorite) it doesn't make sense for me to put on my apron, simmer a red wine reduction, or bake a lasagna. I'll settle for the wine.

You could also chalk it up to time trade-offs, stress, laziness, or even a lack of self-love. But I don't want to get into it that deep today. Besides, there have been periods in my life when I take the time to eat healthy, to pack my lunch, to shop only the outer walls of the market (that's where the whole foods are!), or make a smoothie every morning to start my day off right! I'm not always lazy. But more often than not I go for "simple". (What's more simple than eating ice cream for dessert right out of the container?! It's easy clean up, people!)

This spring, I've found myself thinking more about recipes and finding new flavors. This seems to be pretty standard for me. Something about fresh produce and the smell of neighborhood BBQs brings out a craving to cook. Funny, that I think this desire lasts all the way up to Thanksgiving, but somehow it surprises me every year. I start thinking, "You crazy lady. You don't cook!" or worse "Who are you trying to fool? You got that recipe off Pinterest." Every year I buy a few new cookbooks thinking this feeling will stick around and every year they sit there collecting dust. honor of trying new things, living in the moment, and fueling our desires I'm going to start posting simple (yes, SIMPLE) recipes here and there. Recipes that even the novice cook won't be afraid to try. They will be so short and sweet they won't require step-by-step photo instructions. Most will be geared toward a serving size of 1-2 people (I rarely cook for groups), but I will note that information at the start of each recipe. I'm also going to opt for using seasonal ingredients because they taste so amazing and because it's good for local farmers and the environment (Bonus!).

Now, ON to the recipe...

During the month of May strawberries and spring greens are both in season, and together they are so delicious. This simple salad can be eaten a la carte or as a side dish. And even with just a handful of ingredients it sure packs a lot of flavor.

Simple Strawberry & Balsamic Salad
Servings: 1 bowl (multiply by # of people for more)

- Strawberries (2-3 per person)
- Spring Greens or Spinach Mix (1-2 handfulls. I used organic baby kale, spinach & swish chard.)
- Balsamic Vinegar (2 tbsp. You may also opt to use a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette instead of making your own. If using store-bought dressing, skip the remaining ingredients.)
- EVOO (1 tbsp)
- Lemon Juice (1 tsp)
- Pepper (Just a pinch. Use fresh-ground pepper if you have it.)
- Salt (Just a pinch. I used kosher.)

Step 1: Rinse and pat dry strawberries and greens (if not pre-washed)
Step 2: Slice strawberries. I cut off the end with the leaves and slice them about a 1/4" thick.
Step 3: Place the greens in a bowl (or on a plate) and top it with strawberries.
Step 4: In a small bowl, mix balsamic vinegar, EVOO, lemon juice, and pepper and salt. Whisk ingredients together with a fork and taste. If it seems too heavy on EVOO adjust to your taste preference by adding a little more Balsamic. Skip this step if you are using store-bought dressing.
Step 5: Drizzle balsamic dressing over the salad and enjoy! 

If you would like to dress it up a little bit more, or try a few new flavors, consider adding a few fresh mint leaves, some thinly sliced rhubarb, or some shelled edamame (chilled) or sliced almonds for protein. It really is all up to you and what might balance well with other yummy goodness on your plate. Get out there and experiment! Strawberries and balsamic may not be a new combination in the world of complementary flavors but it is a new favorite for me. Not quite as high on the list as a PB sandwich, but I think it's a keeper.

Bon appetit!

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