The following recipe is an elegant twist on "throw cooking," a technique that eschews specific quantities for the ingredients and invites the cook to omit or replace any "supporting" (not principal) ingredient to suit personal preferences and what's on hand at the time, e.g., omit the celery if you don't like or have it, replace the sweet onion with spring onions or red onion, etc.
While the idea of using a chocolate-infused balsamic vinegar on a green salad might strike you as odd, trust me on this one. As long as you drizzle it on with judicious discretion instead of wild abandon, the overall effect will be one of velvety, mellow, dark cocoa and wood flavors rather than the sweetness of candy chocolate.
And no, I didn't mix together the vinaigrette separately to pour over the salad. Again, trust me on this.... although you are certainly welcome to do so if you prefer, or to otherwise improvise and add your own touch, of course. After all, that's the whole point of throw cooking:
To inspire, not dictate.
Young spring lettuce leaves, washed, patted dry & torn
1 small, slender stalk of celery, trimmed & sliced (I include the leaves)
1/2 small young cucumber, quartered, seeded & thinly sliced (I don't peel)
A few paper-thin slices of sweet onion
Several ripe strawberries, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Dried or fresh thyme
Chocolate balsamic vinegar
Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Place the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle with EVOO to taste, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and thyme to taste, then gently toss. Lightly drizzle with chocolate balsamic vinegar, then gently toss. Transfer to individual bowls or salad plates and top with crumbled cheese. Enjoy!
PS: Do you enjoy the interplay of savory and sweet when adding strawberries to recipes? And do you like spicy foods? Then check out the strawberry hot sauces & salsa available at the Carolina Sauces online store!