I love summer more than any other season for many reasons, and fresh, super-sweet, fragrant strawberries is one of them.
I buy them in bulk and make gorgeous tarts, macerate them and eat them with some vanilla ice cream, use them as a topping for mini vanilla cheesecakes or throw them into a healthy salad like this one.
Try using my fun straw method to hull the strawberries and remove the stems, you won’t believe you never hulled them that way before…it’s so fast and easy!
The ingredients in this recipe go so well together! I don’t know what it is about poppy seeds and strawberries, they just complement each other. You’ll fall in love with the poppy seed vinaigrette, it’s refreshing and perfect for summer. I came across a beautiful bunch of spinach still attached to the stems (which I highly recommend because the spinach retains more of its benefits) but you can also use baby spinach or regular spinach already de-stemmed. Feel free to substitute chopped shallots into the dressing if you don’t have green onions, and you can play around with the choice of cheese as well. I found two adorable goat French goat cheese wheels and really like how they look on top of the salad for presentation, but you can also crumble some goat cheese or buy it pre-crumbled and just mix it in. A good blue cheese or gorgonzola would also be delicious, especially if serving with steak or some grilled chicken. Fair cooking!
Warning: Poppy Seeds can send you to prison!
By mistake that is, and in countries like India, Singapore or United Arab Emirates, where drugs are highly illegal and regulated. No, poppy seeds are not drugs, but they do come from the Opium plant and can contain trace amounts opium alkaloids, like morphine and codeine. I mixed a cup of poppy seeds into a smoothie after finding this out…was very crunchy, but that’s about it 😉
In fact, if you’re getting drug tested for anything, you might want to lay low on the poppy seed muffins. Even though they contain trace amounts of morphine, some random batches may contain enough to show up in your urine, causing a false positive test result. Though used as a spice in some Arab bread recipes, the sale of poppy seeds is actually banned in Saudi Arabia and also in Singapore. That’s crazy! I would certainly go to jail in those countries, because I can’t live without my delicious poppy seed dressing for this spinach strawberry salad!
- 1 large bunch of spinach or 1 bag baby spinach
- 2 or 3 scallions
- 2 tbs chopped chives
- 1/4 cup mint leaves
- Fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme or basil (optional)
- 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- a basket of strawberries
- Crumbled goat cheese or medallions (can also use gorgonzola or blue as well)
- 1 tbs poppy seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 3 tbs sugar
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 2.5 tbs champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup neutral oil like Canola, or Safflower
- freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350.
If using spinach still attached to stems, cut them off. If leaves are too big, you can chop the spinach. Wash spinach and spin dry, or use paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Place into a large bowl that will fit into your refrigerator. Finely chop the green parts of the scallions (can chop the whites and pale greens too, just set aside), chives, mint and tarragon (or any other herbs that you’re using). Set 1/2 to 1 tsp of herbs aside to mix into dressing, and add the rest to the spinach. Place the bowl into the fridge (if it fits in the crisper drawer, place it there) while you prepare the rest. This will remove additional moisture from the greens and make the salad more crispy.
Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Watch closely…you want them golden, not brown!
Make the dressing:
Place chopped pale green and white parts of the scallions into a mason jar and add the herbs you set aside. Add 1 tbs poppy seeds, 1/2 tsp ground mustard, 3 tbs sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 2 tbs fresh lemon juice and 2.5 tbs champagne vinegar. Close mason jar and shake. Then add each of the oils or one of them to total 1/2 cup. Close lid and shake again vigorously. Add more salt or sugar if needed.
To clean the strawberries, wet a paper towel and wipe them. Strawberries absorb water like sponges, so washing them is not a good idea. Cut off the stems with a knife, or use my easy and kinda fun straw method for hulling them (scroll down for how to instructions with photos).
Remove spinach from fridge, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and lightly stir. I always season my greens directly before adding any vinaigrette.
Add just enough poppy seed dressing to coat the leaves, not too much or it will get soggy. You can always add more!
Add the strawberries and almonds, gently stir with lettuce. Top with crumbled cheese of choice (goat, gorgonzola etc..) or with goat cheese medallion.
Serve as a delicious summer low carb side to some grilled chicken, salmon or steak.