I found this recipe in a roundabout way. Dave, of My Year on the Grill, posted a comment on Facebook about Joanne, of Eats Well With Others, and her fabulous salad. Dave and Joanne and I have all been contributors over at Our Krazy Kitchen, which is how I got to know them. So anyway. Dave commented on Joanne's new post on a new blog called Marcus Samuelsson, which was about this fabulous salad and the rest is history.
I served this salad as an accompaniment to Grilled Balsamic-Marinated Flank Steak for Number One's birthday dinner. It was excellent. I do have to say that this recipe's "serves 4" is way more than I could eat, even if salad was all we had for dinner. Just so you know. Actually, we have so much leftover that we are going to eat it for dinner again tomorrow, with strips of flank steak (also leftover) on top. Perfect. I love it when dinner is already made.
*They don't sell fresh basil at our teeny tiny grocery store, so I sprinkled some dried basil on top along with the sea salt. Yum.
Because it was a birthday dinner, we also had a luscious 2-layer chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting for dessert. Topped off with one of our precious bottles of wine self-imported from France, and it was quite a meal!
Serves 4-6, adapted from Bon Appetit April 2011
1 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight or 1 (14 oz) can white beans
1 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1 bunch asparagus, ends cut off and chopped into two-inch pieces
8 oz soft goat cheese or chevre
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly
8 cups spinach, either chopped regular spinach or baby spinach
1/2 cup small fresh basil leaves
Fine sea salt
1. If using dried white beans, drain them from the water you’ve soaked them in overnight. Put them in a pot. Cover them with water with about a 2-inch overhang. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer until tender, 30-60 minutes depending on the beans. If using canned beans, then drain the beans and rinse them.
2. While the beans are cooking, put 1 cup balsamic vinegar (I used aged balsamic vinegar of Modena) in a small non-reactive pan. Bring to a simmer and reduce until syrupy, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
3. When the white beans are pretty much done cooking, drop your asparagus into the white bean water and cook for 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, you can bring a second pot of water to a boil and cook them for 1-2 minutes. Drain both the white beans and the asparagus.
4. In a large bowl, toss the strawberries, spinach, basil, asparagus, and white beans. Separate into four dishes and top each dish with about 2 oz goat cheese, broken into chunks, a drizzle of balsamic syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Serve as lunch or as a light dinner.