Strawberry Spinach Orzo Salad

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Old me: fruit in salad? Weird. Put plate away.

New me: fruit is salad?! GIMMEEEEE!!!!

I’m reformed, I must admit. Up until a few years ago, fruit in a salad was unheard of to me. I liked salad. But salad = vegetables. Period. Nothing fishy here folks.

But one day I woke up and decided that I liked fruit better than I liked veggies and I was bored of the saaaaame old boring salads: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, avocado and dressing. Bo-ring.

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So I was at a restaurant that rhymes with schmilis, and tried a salad with pineapples, mandarin oranges and blueberries and I swear if the floor wasn’t slightly sticky and there wouldn’t have been a baby crying behind me, I would have mistaken this booth for heaven.

One day, I will re-create this salad. But until then, I wanted to experiment with what I had on hand. And that was sweet, sweet strawberries and spinach.

This salad comes together quickly. The most work you’ll do is cooking the orzo, and that’s about as simple as cookie noodles. Scout’s honor. So get to it folks. Don’t wait two decades until you try fruit in your salad.

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Warm Strawberry Spinach Salad
Adapted from here and here
serves 2

For the salad:
1/2 cup uncooked whole wheat orzo (or any other grain)
splash of olive oil
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chick peas
4 cups raw spinach
4 large strawberries, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

For the “dressing” :
4 large strawberries, sliced
1 Tablespoon club soda (or champagne, if you’re fancy)
pinch of sugar

To make the salad:
In a medium pot, boil water for orzo and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside until ready to use.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Add sliced red onion and chickpeas to the skillet with a sprinkle of salt and stir to coat. Saute until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for 3 minutes until aromatic.

Turn off heat and toss in spinach. Allow residual heat to slightly wilt the spinach and remove from heat. (Alternatively you can choose to wilt the spinach completely, in which case leave it over the heat until wilted OR toss everything together with fresh spinach and eat is raw, delicious either way.) Add in strawberries and orzo and mix to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a beautiful big bowl.

To make the dressing: toss strawberries, club soda and sugar in a food processor and pulse until liquefied. Drizzle over your salad (and toss to coat if you like).

Serve immediately. It tastes good cold too!

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