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this is so easy i could cry

Recipe: strawberry hazelnut salad

The new lens arrived! We are getting acquainted. I think I like her. K-dawg and I took her out for a test drive yesterday morning.

i love it here, despite the winds

Kaweah exhibited the strangest behavior I’ve ever witnessed in her on the way back out from the lake. I won’t bore you with details, but after discussing with Jeremy last night on the phone, we’re pretty sure it was a mountain lion or bobcat following us for well over a mile. I never thought of Kaweah as “scrumptious” before, but I imagine she must be a tasty looking chubby little morsel for a big cat these days. When we reached the car, we encountered a much friendlier resident (actually, I’m sure if it were large and fanged and clawed like a mountain lion, we might not consider it friendlier).


We had a good friend come up for dinner earlier this week as I needed to pick her brain for information on the Sierra Nevada. For dinner, I made that fan-friggin-tastic roasted pepper and goat cheese tart. You must make it, just do it – it’s freaking awesome and you can replace the goat cheese with feta if you like. I totally cannot shut up about it. I was also working on that strawberry chiffon buttercream cake goodness for dessert. And 30 minutes before M arrived, I remembered that I had forgotten a salad. Hands on hips, foot tapping, brain whirring. I had greens, but what else?

strawberries to the rescue

I’ve always enjoyed fruit in my salads because I love the way sweet, sour, and salty play so well together in a bed of slightly bitter greens. I’ve plopped apples, supremed oranges, grapefruit, grapes, pears, raspberries into salads before, but… not strawberries. That’s probably because they don’t last long enough in our house to make it to the salad. Luckily, I had a lot of strawberries on hand that night. And the blogs have been pairing a lot of strawberries with balsamic vinegar of late. I hadn’t tried that before.

a wee bit of sugar, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil

The vinaigrette is easy to whip (whisk) up if you just remember to add the oil in a slow and steady drizzle. I wanted a little extra texture in the salad and went rummaging through my pantry for some – ah! hazelnuts! I toasted the hazelnuts for five minutes and then gave them a quick whack with the flat of my santoku knife. Here’s the voice of experience: put the nuts in a bag and smack them unless you enjoy searching the room for the bits of hazelnuts that went flying in all directions.

coarsely cracked

I filled the bowl with the greens and sliced strawberries and tossed them with the vinaigrette so that all participants could share the love. For some reason I always add the nuts after the tossing. I don’t know why. It’s just a thing. Maybe because they’re always collecting at the bottom of the bowl?

pour the dressing

sprinkle the hazelnuts

See how easy that was? I think it is common for salads to get short shrift. Personally, I love the refreshing bite a salad brings to a meal (or as a meal). For a savory gal like myself, this sort of salad is as good as dessert.

it’s good for you and it tastes great

Strawberry Hazelnut Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
[print recipe]

8 oz. salad greens, washed and shaked dry
8 oz. strawberries, washed, trimmed, and sliced
2 oz. hazelnuts (preferably skinned)
2-3 oz. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar (to taste)
3-4 oz. extra virgin olive oil (i don’t like my dressings to be too oily so adjust to your liking)
salt and pepper to taste

Toast the hazelnuts for 5 minutes in a 350°F oven. When the nuts have cooled, place them in a plastic bag and whack them with the flat side of a broad knife (please don’t smack them with a ceramic knife – you will be sad) or under a rolling pin or cutting board. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and the balsamic vinegar until the sugar is dissolved. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the oil into the vinegar-sugar mixture in a steady and thin stream. You should have an emulsified dressing. Place strawberries and greens in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and season with salt and pepper. Toss. Sprinkle the crushed hazelnuts over the salad and serve. Enough for four to six side salads.

42 nibbles at “this is so easy i could cry”

  1. Hilda says:

    I always like seeing a salad as a post. I’ve made and photographed many salads and then for some reason never blogged about them because I never think that would be interesting for anyone else, and yet I have at least one salad a day if not one at every meal or as a meal, so surely someone else must too right? Thanks for this.

  2. Phoo-D says:

    I love strawberries and balsamic together. One of my favorite truffles includes both those flavors. In a salad with hazelnuts? Inspiration!

    I bet you’re right and it was a bobcat or mountain lion. Did you see K’s hair stand up down her spine? On a semi-long coated dog it always freaks me out when I see that- and it never means anything good. Glad you got back to the car with no issues.

  3. Lara says:

    Oh! This looks absolutely yummy!! I’m living off salads these days (I have a formal to get into in July…yikes!) so I’m always looking for something different in the world of salads. I will definitely need to try this with the fantastic bottle of balsamic I brought back from Italy! Yum! Thanks Jen!

  4. Dragana says:

    Great combination of flavors, Jen! Sometimes these last minute grab-what-you-have salads turn out to be the best. Sweet!

  5. Fiona says:

    You make beautiful salads – though I don’t understand why Kaweah can’t get up those hazelnuts. That’s how it works in our house.

  6. Chiot's Run says:

    MMM, I can’t wait for my strawberries to start producing (they’re blooming right now). There’s something so delicious about balsamic and strawberries.

  7. Whitney says:

    Lovely salad. Strawberries with really good balsamic is like dessert!

  8. Adrienne, too says:

    I’m a savory gal, too, but I love the strawberries and hazelnuts combo. If you’re making strawberry shortbread or something like it, ust a touch of balsamic in the strawberries really makes them juice like crazy.

  9. Melanie Thurber says:

    So, what was the lens that you got??? Great pictures!

  10. Tartelette says:

    Salads with strawberries (with some goat cheese also) always end up being the main-side-dessert dish for me and I almost always eat the entire bowl. My downfall.
    Love the addition of hazelnuts instead of the good old sliced almonds.

    Poor Miss. K…and you. Hope it was not too disturbing to either of you. That bunny is just adorable!

  11. Laura says:

    delurking! Goat cheese mixed in with the strawberries and greens is also good. Made it once with a raspberry vinaigrette and is WAS dessert! Also good- just tried strawberries with sliced aged white cheddar for the first time last week. A great breakfast or snack!

  12. Rosa says:

    Great shots, as usual! Love the way that salad looks! Delicious!



  13. cindy says:

    i loooove strawberries and balsamic. i also like my salads to have a nutty crunch.

    and as for the sierra nevadas…don’t think i could live in reno if they weren’t so close. i have a great view of them from my apartment :)

  14. dawn says:

    as much as I always love your recipes, I have to say that bunny pic is stunning!!!!

  15. Marta says:

    Thanks for this great recipe. The photos are gorgeous, I especially love the first one, it makes me feel like I’m flying!

  16. Caitlin says:

    I love that new lens – so dramatic and striking! (Although that might just be the fact that you have mountains and I, well, have flat-as-a-pancake :) ) And I adore strawberries in salads, although I normally go for walnuts then. Not sure why, but hazelnuts are never my go-to crunch for salads.

  17. Elizabeth says:


    What new lens did you choose? I only have a 50 1.8, not great for one of my main subjects, energetic dogs. I’m thinking about a 70-200.

  18. Lisa says:

    I made a very similar salad recently, but used fresh figs instead of strawberries with the hazelnuts. It was delicious so I can only imagine how lovely yours would be!

  19. Laura says:

    Mmmm I LOVE fruit and salad–but I thought it was because I have such a sweet tooth, so the fact that you like them makes me laugh. I think strawberries are fantastic in salad, so I am eager to give yours a try.

    And sheesh that would’ve scared me about the dog. Especially because if your pup is anything like my pups, I’d be certain she’d be mauled to death protecting me instead of running away as any sane creature should do.

  20. sammyw says:

    love the sweetness of the strawberries mixed with the balsamic, one of my favorite combos :)

  21. Kristin says:

    Jeepers Jen! You & Kaweah take care. What would Jeremy & the rest of us do without you?! (I had to mention Jeremy so I wouldn’t sound totally selfish). That salad looks great…dessert, side, breakfast…I’d eat it anytime.

  22. Ninette says:

    This looks great!

  23. Valérie says:

    Yum! I think I know what to do with those strawberries I have in the fridge!

  24. Mrs Ergül says:

    How can anyone not love this?! The first photo up there which I presumed is taken with the new lens kicks asses!! More great photos coming our way?!

  25. ruthie says:

    I am so lovin on balsamic and strawberries right now. I made a balsamic strawberry tart yesterday, in fact! I have all of this strawberry juice left over from my macerated strawberries and I think you’ve inspired me to take my strawberry juice and make it into a salad dressing vinaigrette type thing itself.

  26. Pearl says:

    looks so yummy!

  27. peabody says:

    Oh a snowbunny…the real kind.
    Salad looks really nice, and we have nothing but hazelnuts up this part!

  28. JessW says:

    I’ve never been a fan of raspberry vinagrettes but I think I would really enjoy the combo of balsamic/strawberry/hazelnut. Yum!

  29. jenyu says:

    Hilda – I usually post whatever I feel like posting and if people don’t like it… well ;)

    Phoo-D – I can understand why! That combo totally rocks. It was likely a mountain lion as bobcats tend to hunt smaller critters. Kaweah’s hair did not actually stand on end, but then again… she’s not the brightest of pups! We were both very alert. Usually that place is bustling with people, but early in the season it’s pretty empty. Thanks :)

    Lara – I’m always looking for salad variations too. I just love salads, but sometimes my brain gets into an inspiration rut!

    Dragana – absolutely right.

    Fiona – Ever since I read a laundry list of “potentially deadly” foods for dogs, I’ve just given up on letting her pick up the crumbs for fear of killing her :(

    Chiot’s Run – Oh wowowow. I can’t wait for your strawberries either and I can’t even eat them ;)

    Whitney – it IS, isn’t it?!

    Adrienne – awesome tip, thanks!

    Melanie – 20mm nikkor. Lovely lens :)

    Tartelette – I was tempted to put goat cheese in it, but wondered if it might be overload since I was serving it with the goat cheese tart ;) I should have added them b/c hazelnuts and goat cheese are heaven together.

    Laura – see response to Tartelette above. Mmm, cheddar and strawberries? Sounds great.

    Rosa – thank you!

    Cindy – they are my favorite mountain range on this Earth :)

    Dawn – isn’t he too cute?! he was a big boy, actually!

    Marta – thanks :)

    Caitlin – the new lens is muy awesome. Can’t wait to shoot with it this week! You should try the hazelnuts with some goat cheese – REALLY good :)

    Elizabeth – 20mm 2.8. I shoot landscapes and food – they don’t usually run around ;)

    Lisa – mmm, figs. I have to wait until mid August to get my grubby little hands on figs around here!

    Laura – Not sure how my dog would react. I’m guessing that she would be attacked and not me… she’s a nice little morsel. In which case, I would beat the hell out of anything attacking my dog – man or beast :)

    Sammyw – it’s awesome, isn’t it?! :)

    Kristin – I do take care, thanks :) I am pretty alert, careful, and I do take precautions.

    Ninette – thank you.

    Valerie – :)

    Mrs. E – yes, hopefully next week!

    Ruthie – mmm, that sounds fabooo!! I hope it rocks :)

    Pearl – thank you.

    Peabody – hee hee. You can see his summer coat coming in underneath (like roots, I guess). Oh boy oh boy, I love me some hazelnuts!

    JessW – yeah, it’s pretty different from a raspberry vinaigrette – just fruity and crunchy and awesome!

  30. Melissa says:

    I would have been kind of freaked about the big cat. Yikes.

    “unless you enjoy searching the room for the bits of hazelnuts that went flying in all directions.”

    Oh oh oh! My favorite game!


  31. jenyu says:

    Melissa – ;) You get used to dealing with these things when you live in the mts. ;)

  32. Candice says:

    oh my gah!! i often use strawberries in my salads but i’ve never tried hazelnuts before. thanks for the inspiration…healthy, simple, fresh. my kind of food.

  33. Mermaid Sweets says:

    Yummy, I just had the best strawberry salad today. What a great combo. Love the photos.

  34. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Jen, I love fruits in my salads and have tried them with strawberries once (in a restaurant). It was delicious!
    I love the crunch you get from nuts as well.

    Good to know you and your little baby got to the car safely.

  35. Macie says:

    I know I always comment and tell you how beautiful your foods are, but I can’t help it! That’s the one word that is stuck in my brain when I read your blog. You have a fantastic gift for making even simple dishes look amazing and, well… beautiful!

  36. Mollie says:

    mmmmmm i’ve made a salad like this for easters past… a little sliced red onion, balsamic, strawberries… blue cheese and candied pecans or walnuts are also nice…. mmmmmmmmm

    need more salad…

  37. jenyu says:

    Candice – you’re welcome :)

    Mermaid Sweets – thanks!

    Patricia – aww, thanks hon. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks fruits in salads are a great combo!

    Macie – you’re very very kind and thank you.

    Mollie – yes, I will add a lot of enticements to my salads so I eat more raw greens :)

  38. Kendra says:

    Making this tonight…thanks! Love your fresh, bright site.

  39. jenyu says:

    Kendra – you’re welcome and thank you for stopping by!

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