Dining With the Saints

In Honor of St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua is the Saint people pray to to find lost objects, and where would a person who has lost a sentimental piece of jewelry in a meadow or woods in June look for it? A likely spot would be under the leaves of wild strawberry plants, which cover the ground in many parts of the world on his Saint’s day, June 13th, and throughout the month of June. Because of this connection, over the years, Saint Anthony has become associated with wild strawberries. I’ve created this fresh strawberry salad in his honor.
If you’re luck enough to know a beautiful meadow where you can forage for your own wild strawberries, those would be the best choice for this salad. In Italy these tiny, incredibly sweet strawberries are called fregola di bosca (strawberries of the woods). Everyone celebrates when the first ones arrive and they’re usually eaten just drizzled with a thread of aged balsamic vinegar. I can sometimes find a hybrid strawberry, partly cultivated from a wild strain, at my greenmarket starting around now. Tri-Star is one of these varieties. Ask at your local market to see if any of your area farmers are growing them. They’re small, sweet, and deep red, like little ruby earrings.

Frisee Salad with Strawberries, Basil, and Warm Goat Cheese

(Serves 2)
1 medium head of frisée lettuce, torn into pieces
¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
20 wild strawberries, hulled, or about 10 regular sized ones, hulled and cut in half
1 small shallot, very thinly sliced
A handful of small basil leaves
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to drizzle
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of allspice
4 ½-inch-thick rounds fresh goat cheese
4 ½-inch-thick slices from a baguette, cut on an angle so they’re longer
Place the frisée in a salad bowl. Add the pine nuts, strawberries, the shallot, and the basil leaves.
Set out two salad plates.
In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil, seasoning it well with salt, black pepper, and the pinch of allspice.
Place the baguette slices on a small cookie sheet, and set it under a broiler. When the slices are golden, flip them over, and then place a slice of goat cheese on each one, seasoning them with salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Broil until the cheese is just starting to melt and the edges of the bread are toasted.
Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss gently. Divide the salad onto the plates, and place two goat cheese toasts around each one. Drizzle a thread of olive oil over each toast. Serve right away.
Dining with the Saints is a month feature on Novena.com. It is written by Erica De Mane. Check out her food blog at http://www.ericademane.com

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