Every once in a while, you come across a blend of flavors and textures in a salad that just works and you can’t seem to get enough of it! Well, maybe that’s just how I operate, but I hope you can relate! I have the same feelings about my version of Panera’s Asian Chicken Salad in my Asian Chicken Salad as I do this Strawberry Romaine Salad. I make myself a huge plateful of the salad and savor each little morsel and scrap of dressing coated lettuce. I laughed at myself yesterday after finishing the huge plate of Strawberry Romaine Salad because I couldn’t help but lick the plate clean before putting it in the dishwasher. It’s just so good! It’s based on Trisha Yearwood’s Strawberry Salad, but I’ve made a few adjustments. It has the slightly sweet, but vinegar dressing mixed with the crunchy romaine, toasted noodles and almonds. Plus the zingy tartness of the fresh strawberries that give just enough sweetness and add pretty color. My mom made this for me a few years ago shortly after she was hooked on it and I was immediately hooked as well. I made it for a friend for our lunch one day and she had to have the recipe and has made it several times since then. It’s just addicting! Check us all into rehab, because we can’t get enough of this salad!
This salad is meant to have a crispness to it so it cannot be made in advance. If you are taking to a gathering and it’s going to be a while before you eat it, I would keep the strawberries in a container and the toasted almonds and ramen noodles in a second containers. Leave out the cheese until ready to serve as well. Have your dressing all made and in a squirt bottle so you can quickly dress the salad just before eating. You will have some dressing leftover so it’s a great idea to have a squeeze bottle or something you can store the leftover dressing in your fridge. It can be stored for a few weeks or even longer without any problems. Just shake well before use. In the spring and summer when I tend to eat more of this salad, I will toast up the whole package of ramen noodles and a bunch of almonds and keep them in a storage bag in the pantry. They will keep for a few weeks and it saves a step when preparing the salad for myself. You could use thawed frozen strawberries in a pinch, but I think the fresh are better in this recipe. Last thing is I don’t really measure when making this so adjust the amounts of ingredients to your liking. If you are not big on strawberries and want more crunch, then pump up the almonds and ramen. My girls love the strawberries in the salad, but aren’t fans of the ramen and almonds. They must be crazy! So when I serve this for our family, I will just have the ramen and almonds in a bowl on the side so I can load up on them. If you are not a fan of the sweet vinegar dressing, or don’t want to make your own, you could certainly substitute with a berry blend type vinaigrette or even a sweet french dressing if you prefer that. Also, adjust the sweetness of the dressing to your liking. I’ve made it before with 1/2 C of sugar and it was fine, but I love the vinegar flavor. Adjust it to suits your tastebuds 🙂
Strawberry Romaine Salad
Ingredients: (enough for 4 large salads)
2 Heads Romaine lettuce – washed and chopped
1 pint strawberries – washed and sliced
1/4 C slivered or sliced almonds
1 package ramen noodles (you won’t use the seasoning, so any flavor works)
1 C shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C vinegar (Apple Cider Vinegar, Red wine, rice, any vinegar is fine)
3/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 teas garlic powder
1/2 teas paprika
pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper
Whisk oil, vinegar and sugar together in microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. Add in Garlic Powder, Paprika, Salt, and Pepper and whisk to combine.
Set dressing aside to cool and then transfer to dressing bottle. I prefer a squeeze bottle, over a jar so it’s easier to pour a little amount on the salad. Shake well before using.
Heat almonds and broken up ramen noodles in a skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted. Stir and watch this carefully, as they can burn quickly. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add chopped romaine to your bowl or plate, add sliced strawberries.
Top with the toasted almonds and romaine and shredded parmesan cheese.
Finish off with a drizzle of dressing just before serving.