This seasonal starter says spring!
Ah, spring. Warmer weather. Tender fresh baby spinach. And strawberries!
Those two ingredients frolic like bunnies in this tasty – and gorgeous – salad. Then we toss them in balsamic vinaigrette (with poppy seeds) for even more perk.
It’s the perfect start to Easter dinner. Peeps ahoy!
Recipe: Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Balsamic Poppy-Seed Dressing
Spinach and strawberries make a classic salad combo. But you could substitute lettuce for spinach if you prefer (bib lettuce would be particularly nice). You could also add some oranges, tangerines, or clementines to the mix – citrus adds super flavor and good looks.
Balsamic sweetness goes well with strawberries. And poppy seeds combine beautifully with balsamic vinegar. But if you’re not feeling poppy-seed love, you could just omit that ingredient.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes.
This recipe serves 4 as a starter.
- ~½ pound spinach (about 6 cups)
- several handfuls of fresh strawberries (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (may substitute wine vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- a few pinches of salt (to taste; see Notes)
- a few grinds of black pepper (to taste)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons poppy seeds (to taste; we prefer 3)
- Wash the spinach and dry it in a salad spinner (or pat it dry in a towel). Remove any large stems. If the leaves are particularly big, tear them into bite-size pieces. Add the spinach leaves to a large bowl.
- Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters. Set aside.
- Make the dressing: Add the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar to a small bowl, then whisk them together. While whisking, add the olive oil in a gentle stream. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add the poppy seeds, then whisk again.
- Add about ¾ of the dressing to the spinach leaves, then toss. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Plate the spinach leaves, then add the strawberries to the large bowl. Add the remainder of the dressing, then toss it with the strawberries until they’re lightly coated. Top the spinach with the strawberries, and serve.
- You may prefer to toss the strawberries and spinach together, so the strawberries are distributed throughout the salad rather than sitting on top of it.
- You can prepare the salad dressing ahead of time. Just refrigerate the dressing in an airtight container, and it will keep for a day or two.
- Ingredient quantities for this recipe are highly flexible, so feel free to improvise.
- A bit of minced red onion or shallot would make a nice addition to this salad (use 2 tablespoons or so). Mix it in with the salad in Step 4. Or add it to the dressing in Step 3.
- Better-quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar (and wine vinegar, if using) make for a better salad. So break out the good stuff for this recipe!
- We’ve made this salad both with lemon juice and with wine vinegar. We prefer lemon juice, but wine vinegar is plenty tasty, too.
- How much salt and pepper to use? As much as tastes good to you. Seriously – everyone’s taste is different. If in doubt, use less than you think you’ll need when making the vinaigrette (Step 3). Then add more if necessary when you mix the dressing with the spinach (Step 4).
- Poppy seeds are, as the name suggests, harvested from poppy plants (the same plant that yields opium). They are widely used in baking (think poppy-seed buns, for example).
- Because poppy seeds are oily, they can turn rancid if not used within a reasonable time. To forestall that, store them in an airtight jar in the freezer.
- Wondering if your poppy seeds have turned rancid? Just taste them before using – you’ll know.
“Lovely salad,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Makes my nose twitch like a bunny’s.”
“Glad we hopped on this one,” I said.
“Rabbit jokes, eh?” said Mrs K R. “I’m all ears.”
“Good one,” I said. “Glad you’re not hopping mad.”
“You’re sounding hare-brained now,” said Mrs K R.
Guess I’m just an Easter basket case.
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Pineapple, Coconut, and Carrot Salad
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Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad
Spinach Salad with Parmesan
Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing
Or check out the index for more recipes