At a recent family gathering, I decided my contribution would be my Balsamic Strawberry Arugula Salad with goat cheese.. As I set up the ingredients, my grandchild asked if we could add blueberries, which is their favorite.
I thought the flavors would really work, and look cool too! I don’t know why I never thought to put balsamic and blueberries together before. This delightful twist became an instant hit, adding a new dimension to this classic salad.
Super Healthy Summer Salad Idea
The rich colors of the berries are not only beautiful, but the pigments themselves are micronutrients you might have heard of, flavonoids. Flavonoids are a type of polyphenol, a family of plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Fun fact, surprising to me, the flavonoids that make blueberries blue and strawberries red are both anthocyanins.
My favorite health benefits of berries is that the anthocyanins protect plants from environmental stressors like UV (ultraviolet) light, and they’ll help protect your skin from sun damage as well. Ideal for summer!
Ingredients for this Gourmet Salad
Maybe it’s just me, but berries seem too special to eat out of hand. In my mind, they’re meant to be part of a larger context, so I’m always on the lookout for fresh blueberries recipes.
And berries are kind of expensive, yet before you know it they’ve gone fuzzy or too soft.
How to Refrigerate Blueberries
First, empty the store container and pull out any molded berries — the fuzzy or smushed ones speed up the molding process with those clustered around them.
IMPORTANT: Only rinse your blueberries right before you’re ready to eat them. Getting them wet and then refrigerating can accelerate them going bad.
So, speaking of keeping them dry, line your storage container with paper towel. This will regulate the humidity and capture excess moisture. Keep berries out of the crisper drawer — they’ll need to rest on a shelf that has better air circulation. Keep berries toward the front of the shelf, not only because the back wall may be too cold, but if you see them you’ll be more likely to work them into your meals.
The unsung hero of this salad is the arugula. Its fresh, peppery kick perfectly complements the creamy, tangy goat cheese.
Baby arugula is simply harvested young. It has a more delicate flavor, but is also more tender and should be treated in the same way as blueberries. Pull it out of the clamshell and line it with paper towel. Store it near the front of the refrigerator and use it within a few days. Wait to rinse until right before you’re going to eat it.
How to make this salad
Prep the salad ingredients
Rinse the arugula and spin dry; spinning in two or three batches seems to work best for me.
Rinse and drain the blueberries and strawberries.
Here’s how you can make a strawberry infused balsamic vinaigrette, better than any store-bought salad dressing.
Using the small container of your food processor or an immersion blender, process together 2 or 3 strawberries along with all the dressing ingredients until it’s pretty smooth. This homemade balsamic vinaigrette will tie all the ingredients together.
Constructing this beautiful salad couldn’t be easier
Arrange a bed of greens on a platter and drizzle lightly with the strawberry-infused balsamic dressing. Use salad tongs to turn the greens over lightly, ensuring every leaf is coated with the tangy dressing. This step makes sure the flavor carries throughout the salad.
Now it's time to add the star ingredients: strawberries, blueberries, and creamy crumbled goat cheese. Arrange them artfully on top of the dressed greens. The burst of red, white, and blue hues against the vibrant green arugula creates a visually stunning summer salad.
A Sprinkle of Finishing Touches
For an elegant presentation, garnish the salad with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.
Serve a small bottle of the dressing next to the salad in case your crew may want a little extra.
Embrace the Essence of Summer
The summer months, with fresh berries at their peak, are the perfect time to indulge in this Balsamic Strawberry Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese. Its vibrant colors and flavors will brighten any table. The beautiful colors translate directly into healthy options at your next brunch or backyard gathering.
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Balsamic Strawberry Arugula Salad with goat cheese and blueberries
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- paper towels
- immersion blender or small food processor
- 5 oz Baby Arugula (or sub spring mix)
- 6 oz Fresh Blueberries
- 8 oz Fresh Strawberries
- 4 oz Goat cheese crumbled
- ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil (or sub avocado oil)
- pinch Fine sea salt
- ½ tsp Ground black pepper plus additional for garnish
- ½ tsp Herbs de Provence (or sub thyme)
Prep the salad ingredients
- Rinse the arugula and spin dry.
- Rinse the blueberries and strawberries. Drain well and let dry on a paper towel. Hull and halve the ripe strawberries into a large bowl.
Make the dressing
- Into the small container of your food processor (or a mason jar if you’re using an immersion blender), add 2 or 3 strawberries, the balsamic vinegar and oil, the herbs, black pepper, and a pinch of salt.
- Blend until the dressing is pretty smooth.
Constructing the salad
- Arrange a bed of greens on a platter and drizzle lightly with the strawberry-infused balsamic dressing. Use salad tongs to turn the greens over lightly, ensuring every leaf is coated to make sure the flavor carries throughout the salad.
- Artfully arrange the strawberries, blueberries, and crumbled goat cheese on top of the dressed greens.
- Garnish the salad with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve a small bottle of the dressing next to the salad.
- Add pecans or walnuts
- You can use other leafy greens such as spinach or spring mix.
Hand Size Portions
When you look at the nutritional values of a meal to log what you are eating, that is called tracking macros. A lot of people use this method to reach their health goals.
Looking at hand portion size and using this method to gauge how and what you eat is also a great method to help you reach your health goals. Many people who use this method often think this form of tracking meals is easier and more sustainable for a lifetime.
Want to learn more about hand portion size and how to use it to reach your goals? Check out the article How to Get Started with Hand Portion Sizes.
Heather Lynn Darby helps office and tech professionals disrupt the cycle of chronic stress that undermines their health, and to recover from the negative effects of sitting at a computer all day. Find other articles written by Heather on her coach profile.
If you are largely sedentary at work and rely on your intellectual acumen for success, her take on body-mind interventions will help you find a balance between being "in the zone" and getting the amount of movement that will optimize your mental productivity and prevent health problems.