I have been all about weddings since I was twelve. I used to buy wedding magazines, tear out pictures, and paste them in scrapbooks from CVS. Where was Pinterest when I needed it? I owned the Vera Wang Weddings book when it came out.
I was 16.
That’s not normal. I know.
My friend Ashley was the first to get engaged. She was completely overwhelmed by all the planning at first, and told me how smart I was to buy all those magazines before any of it mattered. Ashley pulled it all together and went on to have one of the classiest weddings in town.
And I went to her wedding to be there for her. And then I went to approximately 8 million more over the course of the next 6 years. Oh, and I had one of my own.
There was a time, probably in my later years of college, when I would have killed for a bridal shower invite. Now I get them on a pretty regular basis. My friend Sarah’s came a while back. I RSVP’ed, hit up the registry early enough to buy my signature gift, some nice cake pans and a Barefoot Contessa baking mix, and didn’t really think anything else of it until the date of the shower was upon me.
I could attend a bridal shower with my eyes closed. You show up promptly at the time the shower starts, never early, never late. You munch on sandwiches, play a couple of games, and watch the bride open her gifts, and chat with ladies you’ll be tearing up the dance floor with at the wedding. Textbook stuff.
Sarah’s shower had all those things. But something made it more than your average bridal shower. It was just so pleasant. It might have had something to do with how lovely Sarah is. It might have had something to do with her dear sister and mother. It could have been that the shower was the perfect size–not too many guests, and not too few. And it may have had a little something to do with the four girlfriends who have become such great wedding buddies over the years. I can’t pinpoint exactly what made this particular shower so nice, but it was simply a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
When we got to the eating portion of the shower, I filled my plate about halfway with this spinach strawberry salad, because salads involving spinach and strawberries are my favorite. As I worked on my lunch plate, I realized I had all the ingredients I needed to make this at home. Thus, I decided that not only would spinach strawberry salad make up half of my lunch, it would also comprise my dinner.
I asked Sarah’s mom for the recipe, and headed off with visions of toasted almonds dancing in my head.
This is how I made it based on what I had. It’s not quite exactly how Sarah’s mom made it, but I’ll include her version in a note at the bottom. And you should know that you can make this (and any salad) exactly the way you want by swapping out things you like better, and changing amounts to reflect your tastes.
To make spinach strawberry salad for at least 4, you will need:
- 1 box fresh baby spinach leaves, 5 oz.
- 1/3 C sliced almonds, toasted
- 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 C olive oil
- 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 4 strips crispy bacon (totally and completely optional)
Place spinach, almonds and strawberries in a bowl, and toss (If you wanted to do this ahead, you could just leave that mixture out for a while.) Just before serving, mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in small bowl, and toss salad with as much or as little dressing as you like. Crumble bacon over top of individual salad bowls.
Sarah’s mom’s salad dressing was utterly amazing, and is made by whisking:
- 3/4 C canola oil
- 2/3 C tarragon vinegar
- 1/4 C sugar
- a dash of Tabasco sauce
together in a small bowl.