Monday, April 18, 2011

Strawberry, Spinach & Wheat Berry Salad

Sunday was a perfect day for a picnic! After rain and floods all day Saturday, Pam, Kasia, Taylor and I headed to Old Town Alexandria for a relaxing day on along the river. We had planned a picnic and I knew this salad would be perfect from the moment I saw it here. I adore How Sweet's obsession with bacon. And chocolate. And basically wish I could eat everything she this salad.

1 sliced red onion
8 large strawberries
8 cups fresh spinach
3 cloves of minced garlic
4 strips of turkey bacon
3/4 cup cooked wheat berries
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
fresh basil to garnish 

prepped veggies
While I was chopping away at the fruit and veggies, I cooked the wheat berries.

wheat berries
I had never cooked wheat berries. The recipe called for orzo, but my grocery store didn't have any, so I experimented with wheat berries. Besides the nutritional value of wheat berries, I really like the crunch they add to the salad. With that being said, any grain would work here. Pasta would be great too.

smoked turkey bacon sizzling away
I used turkey bacon to respect my non pork eating friend and also to mitigate the fact that I skipped the gym all weekend. It was a win-win. Kind of. Who are we kidding? Bacon > Gym any day.
After crisping up the bacon, I sauteed the walnuts in the "bacon fat" which was basically non-existent because turkey is so healthy. After about 5 or 6 minutes of toasting the walnuts, I removed them from the pan and caramelized the red onion and garlic. I added some olive oil to facilitate the process. Once the onion was brown and beautiful, I added the crumbled bacon, walnuts, spinach, strawberries and cooked wheat berries.  I finished the salad with feta and fresh basil. 
This salad is awesome hot or cold.
All ready for the picnic!

Picnic time!
Our picnic included my salad, fresh bread and crackers, dean and deluca tuna salad and pesto chicken salad, a greek yogurt dip, tabouli, sliced bell pepper, baby carrots, and grapes.

The best part? Pinot Noir we bought from a specialty wine store on our stroll to the water, which we drank out of insulated styrofoam coffee cups (thanks walgreens). The view of the river was awesome, but the grass was soggy due to the heavy rains and flooding the night before. We worked it out by scoring a semi secluded spot along a paved path. 

Later we checked out the Torpedo Factory, a local art museum and gallery.

We were inspired by the art and decided to leave our mark!

Yeah South Dakota!
The rest of the afternoon was spent strolling in and out cute little shops. I randomly found an awesome dress that is perfect for a wedding rehearsal/cinco de mayo celebration in Vegas! 

I can't wait to go back Old Town for some wine tasting and exploration!

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