Living in Ventura county means we are surrounded by strawberries almost year round! The Ventura Farm Bureau estimates that each year Ventura County produces enough strawberries to satisfy the annual strawberry eating habits of 78 million Americans!
Ventura local strawberries are found at farmer's markets, the many produce stands dotted around our county roads, and of course at local markets--And don't forget the many farms that offer U-pick days. U-pick strawberries require that you set aside an afternoon or morning for a visit to the field, but you'll quickly realize that extra time is well worth it, when you first step outside your car and a wall of sweet berry aroma hits you like a Mac Truck! You'll leave with baskets of berries as well as happy stomachs--as it's perfectly acceptable to pop just as many in your mouth as into your basket!
And oh, the jamberries! What are jamberries?, you ask! Jamberries are the last of the crop--the berries so ripe and sweet--they are almost already jam just by themselves! The announcement is made that these sweet beauties are ready and cars line-up to buy them by the case load. And jamming across the county begins! Those jars of strawberry jam are often auctioned off at local fundraisers and if you are lucky, your neighbor will add a jar or two into the goodies exchanged during the holidays!
At the peak of strawberry season, Ventura County celebrates all things strawberry with the Strawberry Festival. This year, due to Covid19, the festival has been cancelled. But in an ode to the festival and the lovely strawberries it celebrates, we offer up our favorite strawberry salad.
A salad that goes beyond basic to really-really-nice features contrasts of sweet, savory, sour, bitter, crunchy, soft, and salty! And this strawberry salad ticks all the boxes to put this in the really really nice category.
We've started with a sharp base of arugula that contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the strawberries. The salty pecans also balance well with that sweetness and add a much needed crunch. Feta cheese boasts the salty sweet balance while contributing a creamy element.
Served with a cold glass of iced tea, this salad makes a lovely lunch or a delightful side to any grilled meat. It easily becomes vegan by substituting the feta cheese for a soft vegan cheese or by leaving out the cheese all together. If leaving out the cheese, you may want to add a bit of nutritional yeast to your dressing to up the savory salty flavors.
And that our friends is our ode to the beloved Ventura County strawberry and 2021's cancelled Strawberry Festival!
If you try this recipe, we'd love to for you to share your thoughts on it!