Plant City is Florida’s strawberry capital. Thousands of acres of strawberry farms surround the city, and it is home to the Florida Strawberry Festival held every March. One of the best local “finds” featuring strawberries is found at the city’s Old Towne Pizzeria and Pasta Restaurant. They toss fresh berries in a salad with romaine, mozzarella, sugared pecans, and a light vinaigrette. Nan replicated the recipe so she and her family can enjoy it at home in Iowa. We think you’ll love it as much as we do.
For sugared pecans:
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
2 cups broken pecans
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For salad dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 cups romaine , cut in 1/2-inch-wide strips
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup sugar pecans
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small mixing bowl, whip egg white and water with a whisk just until frothy. Add pecans, stirring to coat nuts. Spoon nuts into a mesh strainer, allowing excess egg white to drain off. Add nuts to sugar in a small bowl; toss until well coated. Arrange nuts on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Makes 2 cups (use 1 cup now and store remaining nuts, covered, for later use.)
2. For dressing, combine oil, honey, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid; cover and shake well.
3. For salad, combine romaine, strawberries, and cheese in a large salad bowl. Add 1 cup of the sugared pecans and the salad dressing. Toss and serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10 servings.