Lamb Merguez & Strawberry Salad

April 2, 2014

Lamb Merguez & Strawberry Salad

Around the change of seasons, when the flowering trees start to shoot out their buds and bushes start show that bright green new growth, the farmer’s market becomes so overwhelmed with fresh strawberries that it becomes impossible for me to walk by stall after stall and not come home with a couple of quarts of them. And that’s how this recipe was born – a trip to my local farmer’s market, too many strawberries, and an adventurous “why not?” purchase of lamb merguez sausage.

Merguez sausage is usually made from lamb, spiced with the North African flavors of cumin and harissa. It has a very rich flavor and often a little kick from the harissa. While it is amazing wrapped in a pita, with my plethora of strawberries I decided to go a slightly different route.

In the past, I’ve usually sauteed onions after frying the sausages in a pan, but this week I had leftover pickled red onions from the pork tacos I had made, so I decided to pair their astringent taste with the strawberries and merguez to see what happened. Since this is the version of the recipe being posted to this site, you probably have a good idea of where this is going — it was delicious! Plus I figure this makes this salad just a tad bit better for me to add a pickled onion instead of a sauteed-in-oil onion, but either way I’m getting my fruit and greens, so I won’t be picky.

Lamb Merguez & Strawberry Salad
Serves 4
24 medium-sized strawberries, topped and halved
1/2 teaspoon sugar, more or less, depending on strawberries’ sweetness
4 lamb merguez sausages (see note)
Baby spinach, hand torn
Olive oil
1 lemon
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper
Pickled onions (see recipe at bottom of page)

Sprinkle the strawberries with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and use your hands to coat. If you have strawberries from the height of the season you may not need to do this, but if they have their slight sourness, give them a little sugar to ensure your salad has both a sweet and savory component.

Meanwhile, cook the lamb merguez according to package directions. I usually add a little olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and brown them all over, then turn dowm the heat to finish cooking them through. When they’re done, let them cool for a few minutes then slice into 1/2 inch chunks.

Place a bed of spinach in the bottom of each salad bowl. Top each bowl with a quarter of the strawberries and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil around the edge of the bowl, and squeeze 1/4 lemon over each bowl. Toss the greens and strawberries to coat, brining the strawberries back to the top of the greens for looks.

Top the dressed greens and berries with the merguez sausage and pickled onions. I’ve left the amount of onions up to you, based on personal preference, but I like a couple of forkfuls from the jar.

Note: In the Bay area I usually buy my lamb merguez from Fabrique Délices at the farmer’s market in Campbell (though they usually have a booth at other farmer’s markets in the area). D’Artagnan has a wonderful merguez, and their sausage sampler is really good as well.

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