We know that just yesterday we had a recipe for Strawberry Tomato Salad, but this one is different. And, we don’t know about you, but, during the summer, we like to go with something a bit lighter for lunch. That, along with strawberries coming into the stores as loss leaders, well, it’s a perfect match.
We saw this recipe in Near and Far, by Heidi Swanson, and thought that it sounded really good, with its combination of strawberries and caraway seeds. For years, we’ve relegated caraway seeds to our Easy Rye Bread or Irish Soda Bread, and perhaps a few mixed into Sauerkraut. We figured this might be a great way to get us to see caraway seeds in a new light. We will say that the original recipe called for lemon zest; we omitted it simply because we didn’t have lemons in the house. Also, we scaled the recipe back a bit, too, just so it’ll be better sized for the two of us.
It’s about the strawberries. Nothing else. If your strawberries aren’t delicious, this salad will be a disaster, so make sure to use fresh ripe strawberries that were picked ripe, not the ones treated with ethylene gas to turn them red so they look ripe.
Procedure in detail:
Toast caraway seeds. This is such a small amount of toasting we recommend using a skillet. Place the seeds in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until nice and fragrant, about 5 minutes. You’re trying for a light toasting, and seeds can burn rapidly, so use care. Once toasted, transfer to a medium-sized bowl — one large enough to hold the entire salad.
Toast almonds. Since the skillet’s hot, place the almonds in it, keeping it over medium heat, and toast until the almonds are turning golden brown, about 10 minutes. Once toasted, transfer to a small bowl to cool. Don’t be tempted to leave the nuts in the skillet and turn off the heat. The residual heat from the skillet will continue toasting the nuts and they may burn.
Mix caraway and sugar. Back to the medium-sized bowl. Add the sugar and salt to the caraway seeds, and break up the sugar using the back of a spoon or your fingers. Once broken apart, use the back of a spoon to crush the sugar into the seeds. This will help release some of the caraway flavor.
Add oil. Pour in the olive oil and give everything a stir until well-mixed. The sugar and salt won’t really dissolve in the oil; instead, they’ll make something like a slurry. Once you add the strawberries, the sugar will dissolve.
Add almonds. Carefully stir in the almonds (and most the zest, if using, reserving a bit for garnish) so you don’t break them up too much. Toasting makes them slightly more brittle, and you don’t want to have a bunch of small almond pieces; the salad will look better with nice slices. Once mixed, scoop out about a tablespoon and set aside for topping the salad before serving.
Fold in strawberries. Again, use care to fold in the strawberries. If they’re very ripe, it’ll be easy to bruise them, so just lightly toss and fold until they’re coated. The sugar will start dissolving, drawing the juices out of the strawberries and making a light sauce.
Serve. Serve immediately, dividing into bowls and topping with the reserved almond mixture (and lemon zest, if using).
This was really yummy. At least that what’s we both said when we took a bite. The caraway does pair nicely with the sweetness of the strawberries and sugar, and the slight bitterness of the almonds provide a nice counterpoint. If you’re getting in a bunch of perfect strawberries right now, we can say that this is a five-star use for them.