I was in a strange kitchen, on my own in New York City, so I wanted to keep my own brunch contribution easy and quick, but I also wanted to do something a little different. Fresh fruit — strawberries! — were definitely in order, but I wanted to dress it up with a little something different. I picked up several cartons of fresh strawberries and added a few handfuls of raspberries, and almonds for a soft crunch. I decided to add baby arugula too; its fresh spiciness is a nice complement to the sweet berries. I looked for lemon Stilton to crumble into the salad, but Whole Foods didn't carry it. So instead I substituted a block of fresh, creamy and crumbly ricotta. I zested in a lemon and added a couple tablespoons of sugar. We served this dressing on the side (forgot to take a photo!) and the brunch guests dolloped spoonfuls on their bowls of berries and greens. I really liked how it turned out; it was a fresh, slightly different take on the standard bowl of strawberries and cream.
I also loved everyone else's contributions to the writers' brunch. Elizabeth brought asparagus frittata squares; Nora Maynard brought a lightened-up version of the Lemon Myrtle, with limoncello and soda; Nora Singley brought amazing rhubarb turnovers, and I rounded things out with a lemon brioche baked French toast. Everything was delicious, including the conversation. It's so fun to gather with other writers and food enthusiasts, especially over good food prepared with our own hands. Here's a rough recipe for the salad; I didn't keep very close tabs on amounts, but it's an improvisational type of recipe to begin with.
Strawberry-Arugula Salad with Ricotta Topping serves 8-10 4 pints strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced into quarters 1 pint raspberries, washed and blotted dry 1-2 cups sliced almonds 1 small bunch baby arugula, sliced into thin ribbons Kosher salt 2 lemons, zested and juiced 1 1/2 cups fresh, drained ricotta cheese 2 tablespoons sugar (or more, to taste) 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg Toss the strawberries, raspberries, almonds, and sliced arugula with a pinch of kosher salt and the zest of 1 lemon. For the dressing: In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice and remaining lemon zest with the ricotta, sugar, and nutmeg. Taste and sweeten to taste, if necessary. Serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Related: Seasonal Treat: Strawberry Butter (Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan and Faith Durand)