The CSA season has officially begun! I'm really psyched. In fact, I've been so excited to get back to the farm that when I finished gathering my share, I stood around lamely in the farm stand for a minute or so, looking for a reason to linger.
Because we've had this strange spring - alternating unseasonable cold with spurts of summer heat - there wasn't much available yet. I took home four heads of lettuce, some arugula, some herbs, and a quart of strawberries. The strawberries look great this year - in the preceding two years of my membership, the Pennington strawberry fields have had issues with fungus, resulting in very low production. Last year the existing fields were torn up and a new strawberry patch was planted. I think it's a huge improvement - the plants are small yet, but they are producing well and look very healthy. I'm looking forward to a great strawberry season! My own strawberries also look very promising - we picked the first two red ones today and they were delicious.
Since the ripening of the strawberries marks the beginning of Honey Brook's CSA season, I thought it fitting to inaugurate this season's Farm Fridays with a strawberry recipe. My last Better Homes and Gardens (which they persist in sending me even though I let my subscription run out in December) had a recipe for a strawberry-arugula salad with cheese crisps. We had it for dinner tonight (served with a balsamic, Dijon and garlic grilled chicken breast and some grilled asparagus), swapping out the recipe's Manchego for the Gruyere in our fridge, and it was every bit as good as it sounded. This salad is all about strong flavors: sweet, juicy strawberries, peppery arugula, crispy, salty Gruyere crisps and a rich balsamic dressing. The recipe is simple, but the flavors were complex. It's the sort of dish that celebrates spring (even when it's 50 degrees and drizzling outside).
Strawberry and Arugula Salad with Gruyere Fricos
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens June 2013.
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 c arugula
1 1/2-2 c strawberries, halved or quartered (depending on their size)
3 oz shredded Gruyere
Combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Toss the arugula and strawberries together in a large bowl.
To make the fricos, heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Quickly sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese evenly onto the pan.
Cook 2-3 minutes, until the edges are golden.
Remove the skillet from the heat for about 30 seconds, then carefully lift the frico out with a spatula. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining cheese. (Yes, each of these pictures is from a different frico - I had difficulty working quickly and taking pictures!)
Toss the salad with the dressing. Break the fricos into chunks to garnish. Enjoy!