Springtime Salad - Fresh Spinach & Strawberries w/ Strawberry Vinaigrette

     Springtime and strawberries just seem to go together. This salad combines the best of springtime produce that just happens to be packed with vitamins and minerals.
    I prefer the mild and slightly sweet taste of rice vinegar in salad dressing but you can use whatever you want. Vary the salad using raspberries instead of strawberries . . . and then you could even use raspberry vinegar. This salad is quite adaptable.

Fresh Spinach & Strawberry Salad w/ Strawberry Vinaigrette    8 servings
Strawberry Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons white rice wine, white wine vinegar, or white vinegar
2 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam (use sugar free if you prefer)
1/3 cup canola oil

1.  Combine vinegar and jam in blender, food processor or small bowl.
2.  Add oil in a thin stream, blending well.

8 cups spinach, rinsed, stemmed & torn into pieces (or use baby spinach leaves)
1 to 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, cleaned & sliced
About ½ cup+ almonds, slivered or sliced – toasted*
8 whole strawberries for garnish, if desired

1.  Toss spinach with half of the fruit. Place a handful of this mixture on each salad plate.
2.  Sprinkle remaining strawberries and toasted almonds on top of each salad.
3.  If desired, make a strawberry fan to use as garnish for each salad.  To make a strawberry fan: Using a small knife, make vertical slices about 1/4” from the leaf, all the way to the bottom, leaving strawberry intact at the top. Spread out in fan shape. (Watch a video on You Tube for the specifics.)
4.  Drizzle with dressing or put it in a pitcher and serve alongside the salad.

Nutritional Analysis per serving (72 g): Calories 130, Fat 12.2g (Saturated fat 0.9g, Cholesterol 0mg), Sodium 24 mg, Carbohydrate 4.5g (Fiber 1.9g, Sugars 1.7g), Protein 2.3g, Vit. A 56%, Calcium 5%.

Toasting Nuts
Toasting crisps and brings out the flavor of nuts. To toast: Place nuts in a 350° oven for about 7 or 8 minutes (time varies according to nut size and oil content). Watch carefully as nuts can burn or scorch in a matter of minutes due to their high  oil content – when you first detect a toasted nut smell, they should be ready to come out of the oven.

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