Yesterday I mentioned that Saturday morning my friends and I devoured brunch (more on that in another post!) then hit the ground running. Operation shop ’til we drop: downtown Chicago style, was in full effect.
I don’t think any of us realized we’d still be walking 5 hours later. Or at least I didn’t…otherwise I wouldn’t have worn flip flops. Ouch!
Despite my ill-advised choice of footwear, however, it ended up being a great way to spend time together while getting in a nice workout, and a fun way to see the city, to boot. I always forget how beautiful the architecture is in Chicago and after all, the best way to see a city is on foot!
As we wandered we came across a quaint shop called Old Town Oil, a small artisanal oil and vinegar shop in Old Town, which I knew I knew, but didn’t know how. You know? ; )
I soon remembered that my friend Lindsey, whom I was with, brought me a bottle of their Tuscan Herb Olive Oil when she was visiting a few years ago, which I had treasured to the very last drop – it was absurdly delish. That being said, we wasted no time diving into the shop’s other flavored and infused oils and vinegars they keep in big casks around the room with small sippers for sampling.
They were all terrific, but the Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks.
Tasting like a reduced balsamic vinegar with a sweet kiss of strawberry flavor, I made sure my friends tried a sip (no seriously, did you try this?! YES, we tried it!) snatched up a bottle and used it to drizzle over a Triple-Berry Summer Salad when I got home. Three types of plump berries married with creamy avocado, tangy goat cheese, and crunchy almonds, then drizzled with the Strawberry Balsamic. This fresh, summer-inspired salad was off the CHAIN!
Start with those summer berries plus some other fresh ingredients. Berries are flying off the shelves at my grocery store these days as they’re in-season, inexpensive and tasting great, so I included plump blueberries, sliced strawberries, and juicy raspberries into the salad, along with herby basil, and cool avocado. Include any type of berry you want though!
Place chopped baby spinach onto plates then add the berries, avocado, and basil on top, and then sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.
The easiest way I know how to toast almonds is to spread them on a plate and microwave in 30 second increments until they’re golden brown (these were pre-toast.) You could also do this in the oven, but it’s getting hot out there, y’all, and when I can keep the heat out of the kitchen, I’ll do it!
Next, crumble fresh chevre on top. I. Heart. Chevre. It’s tangy, kind of like cream cheese, but has a way cooler texture. Try it sometime! : )
Finish off with a drizzle of Strawberry Balsamic, or any olive oil-based salad dressing, then dig in!
Triple-Berry Summer Salad
9oz baby spinach, torn
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup chopped basil
1 avocado, chopped
4oz goat cheese
- Divide baby spinach between plates then top with berries, almonds, basil and chopped avocado. Crumble goat cheese on top then dress with salad dressing. I recommend strawberry balsamic vinegar, but any olive-oil based vinaigrette would be fantastic.
Easy, right? Fabulously fresh, no-cook, and light yet filling from the goat cheese and avocado.
I thought this was perfectly satisfying on it’s own, without meat, but a grilled chicken breast marinated in some of that balsamic vinegar, or even brined –> sauteed shrimp would be divine on top. Enjoy!