Spinach and Strawberry Salad w/ Candied Cashews

spinach and strawberry salad

I have a habit of cueing in on other people’s conversations. I come by this honestly. My mom does the exact same thing. One minute you are talking to her and the next her eyes are entirely glazed over and you know that she has heard every word at the table behind her. I’ve had to practice how to tune out people’s conversations. It’s like my ears don’t have the best filter and they just wander around. I’m better than ever at staying present in a conversation, but when I’m by myself, the whole thing goes haywire.

I go to a gym in Boston that is bustling any hour of the work day. In the morning, I love listening to people talk about their lives. I get to hear all kinds of interesting tidbits about humans if I just do my natural thing – let my ears wander. The other morning, I lost myself listening to two guys talk about the weather – how one side of the country won’t get a drop of rain and the other can’t get its temperature above 45 degrees.

One guy says to the other, “It’s gotta be global warming, right?” And his friend says, “Ya, I don’t know..”

That’s it. The conversation ends on that note. Nowhere to go from there. Global climate change is the end of all weather conversations. They’re both uncertain and I’m left feeling like the first guy didn’t get the assurance he was looking for.

It made me think of those places in my life that are filled with uncertainty right now. I could hear myself asking similar questions: is this going to work out? are we gonna make it? will everything be o.k.? It made me think of how stuck these questions make me feel & how lately I’ve been having a lot more let-those-thoughts-go kind of moments. And that morning it took two guys in a gym talking about the weather to wake me up to the places where I’ve been stuck because of uncertainty.

I’m sixteen chapters deep in Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodrön and the last chapter ended with this quote about life: “It’s all good juicy stuff–the manure of waking up, the manure of achieving enlightenment, the art of living in the present moment.” I have to take this grungy moment in a gym basement with two guys talking about the weather as part of my journey. It’s all here to keep us moving, even the moments of uncertainty.

– Spring Spinach and Strawberry Salad w/ Candied Cashews – 

strawberry and spinach salad

I eat a lot of salad during the week, everything from lentils piled on top of arugula to spring greens and fruit. My mom used to make sweet spinach salads growing up that were really delicious. Admittedly, strawberries aren’t in season in New England, but they remind me of spring in California. I love the sweetness from the cashews in this recipe and tangy-ness from red wine. This salad reminds me of spring & the mountains.

I have been trying to outfit my kitchen with items that have stories and really fell in love with these salad tongs. They are from Our Green House and are made from sustainably harvested wood.  These are hand-shaped, sanded, and rubbed with oils. They are really smooth and great for serving up salad out of a giant bowl.

3 handfuls of baby spinach
1 lb fresh strawberries

1 tsp salt
1 tbs red wine or red wine vinegar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs maple syrup
3 tbs grapeseed oil

1 cup raw cashews
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs organic maple syrup


maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together cashews, salt, cinnamon and maple syrup. Spread evenly onto the baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until nuts turn deep brown.

While the cashews are cooking, whisk together salt, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, and grapeseed oil until fully combined. You can also place all of these ingredients in a jar and shake. You may need to mix this up a little before serving.

red wine vinaigrette

Wash 3 cups of spinach and set aside. Wash and quarter 1 lb of strawberries and set aside. The cashews should be done at this time, so you can pull them out of the oven and let them cool for 1-2 minutes. Scrape the cashews into a small bowl. In a large bowl, mix together spinach, strawberries, and dressing. Top with candied cashews and serve.

strawberry salad mix