When local strawberries are at their peak, I make salads with them almost every night. Once a simple dressing has been prepared and left to wait in the fridge, salads in general can be prepped in minutes and paired with your protein of choice for an easy yet delicious meal. Years ago, I always used this dressing with a simple combination of spinach, strawberries, almonds, red onion, and goat cheese.
Now, I have a dozen different varieties of my favorite strawberry salad, including everything from asparagus and snap peas to, as in the first version I posted in this space, pistachios, avocado, and kumquats. This time, I was inspired by the fresh ricotta I just made. (Click here for directions.) But don’t let the absence of kumquats or fresh ricotta prevent you from making this salad. You could substitute sliced orange for the kumquats or skip them altogether. Feta and goat cheese work as well as the ricotta. The salad will be delicious with or without the specialty ingredients: A flavorful dressing, fresh greens, and vine ripened strawberries are the necessities. Beyond that, be guided by your taste buds and what you have on hand.
I have included measurements as a basic guide, but I don’t bother to measure the ingredients anymore. Start with the amount of lettuce you want, based on the number of mouths you are feeding, and add the toppings to your liking. It’s summertime in a bowl!
- 10 ounces baby spinach (fee free to mix in green leaf, butter, romaine, or another lettuce of choice)
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 1 ripe avocado, chopped
- 3/4 cup kumquats, sliced and any seeds removed (see note above)
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios (could also use sliced or slivered almonds, chopped pecans or walnuts)
- 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled (I have also used feta, gorgonzola, or fresh ricotta)
- 1/4 cup slivered red onion, optional
- Poppy Seed Dressing (recipe follows)
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
Toss with several tablespoons of the dressing–just enough to coat lightly–prior to serving.
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced onion (optional)
Mix all ingredients and store in a jar in the refrigerator.
Let stand at room temperature for a few minutes before using and shake well. The dressing will keep at least a week in the refrigerator, longer if you omit the onion.
Note: I have tried this dressing with agave syrup instead of sugar. It is good, but I do prefer the regular sugar. You only need to lightly coat the greens to capture the wonderful flavor. This amount of dressing will allow you to enjoy many nights of salad in a flash.