Saturday, January 16, 2010

Spinach, berries & smoked salmon salad with strawberry balsamic reduction

We just got back from Miami and a cruise in the Caribbean and now we are back to the freezing weather of Montreal. So usually, I would have opened this post with something along the line of "reality sucks!", or "it's like ripping the bandage off", but with all that is going on in Haiti, it just sounds... well... bratty and inappropriate. I don't think I need to say more on the horrible situation, as I'm sure everyone are well informed. I do sincerely hope that everyone there will get all the help they need, and that everyone over here continue to support all the volunteers who are working hard to make that happen (And here is one of the many ways to show it)

As for the cruise, I think we definitely brought winter along with us. The trip was great nonetheless. We had a few sunny, warm bikini days, but the rest was more like I-will-be-in-denial-and-wear-short-shorts-but-I-am-bringing-my-sweater-along kind of weather. It was our first cruise, and although it was an awesome experience, I don't think we would do it again anytime soon. Maybe when we are more like... 60-70 years old? (Not because of any negativity, but because we prefer to do a little more than just being pampered all day)

They had a great entertainment program for us every night. The crew was awesome: exceedingly polite, caring and friendly. And boy, did we eat...I'm not kidding when I say that we would go to a sit down restaurant, have the whole 3 course meal and then get up and go to the buffet for a second round... Needless to say, we were in the gym everyday running all that food off keeping ourselves in good health. It was so good.

So after a whole week of being spoiled, I haven't felt like cooking again just yet. I'm eating out, pulling out things from the freezer and and making meals that require no effort. And I successfully achieved my goal tonight.

It's a straight forward what-you-see-is-what-you-get salad: avocado, baby spinach, berries and smoke salmon with a strawberry balsamic reduction. Ok, so the reduction is the most "work", but I made this in advance, and keep it in a squeeze bottle in the fridge. Initially, I made them separately, and then mixed only part of both so I have 3 different sauces on hand.

Balsamic reduction  
(makes about 1 cup)
  • 1 bottle of balsamic vinegar 500 ml
  • A few cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Dried herbs: rosemary, parsley, thyme, etc
Put everything in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 40-60 minutes, depending on how thick you like it to be. (The result will reduce significantly to about 1/3 of what it was in the beginning, and it is so worth it) Strain if you'd like and bottle once cooled.

Strawberry sauce:
(makes about  1 cup)
  • 15 big strawberries, chopped (I froze some back in the summer, it works very well)
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • About 1 Tbsp sugar (more or less depending on how sweet the strawberries are)
  • 1 Tbsp jam, optional (I used boysenberry because that's what I had)
Put everything in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and whiz everything up with a hand-held blender (or use a normal blender and then transfer back to the saucepan afterward) Mix well, then strain if you prefer the sauce to be seedless. Cool completely.

I mixed equal parts of both for this salad, but you can adjust it to your taste, to be more balsamic-y or berry-ish.

***You can use the strawberry sauce for ice cream or plain yogurt!

Enjoy the healthy salad, know how lucky we are to be alive and well. Send your thoughts to those in need today (contribution too, if you have!!!) We should all spread the love!!!