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.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Roast Strawberry Salad
Pineapple, Coconut, and Carrot Salad
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Mint
Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad
Spinach Salad with Parmesan
Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing
Or check out the index for more recipes
Your version of this spring classic is appealing -- a good reawakening with a familiar choice. Poppy seeds are a nice flavor combo for the greens etc.
A few years ago, when the idea was kind of new, the spinach-strawberry thing was just too popular, and back then I tasted some really unfortunate examples. As your recipe implies: you need baby spinach, not the overgrown kind that has become bitter. And you need to be sure the strawberries are in good shape; you can't cut them up days in advance, obviously. Alas, I've experienced salads with these bad choices.
Bottom line: you can't buy it from the ready-made counter far in advance and expect it to be acceptable. If you are shopping at the ready-made counter stick to cole slaw!!!
BEST OPTION: MAKE THIS RECIPE! Thanks, Mr. KR.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, the balsamic helps temper the flavor of somewhat mature spinach, but you're right: baby spinach is by far the best. And it's all I'm seeing in the stores at the moment! Love this time of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Simple, fresh, and delicious..this is one of my favourite spring salads!
Hi Angie, there's a reason strawberries and spinach are a classic! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh my. Thank you for reminding me how much I love a strawberry spinach salad! That combo, with some balsamic, is just spring perfection!
This is how I eat most nights. Just give me a great salad with some fish or a steak.
Oh yum, those colors are amazing ☺
Hi Kelsie, we're all for springtime perfection! :-) Thanks for the comment.
A fresh and mouthwatering salad that is perfect for the season...and for Easter too!
Hi Laura, salad + protein is a great way to eat, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Natalia, we do like colorful food! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, doesn't this look good? It's a wonderful dish! Thanks for the comment.
Beautiful and delicious salad. YUM!
Hi Pam, yum is definitely the word for this! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh that os such a pretty salad, I am hoping to my plate right away. I had no idea poppy seeds could go rancid, I guess it has never happened to me. Where did you get such gorgeous strawberries so early???
Fabulous salad and so perfect for spring! Love the poppy seeds in the dressing. Happy Spring!
I've always loved this combination in a salad. But I love that your dressing isn't loaded with sugar. The balsamic gives plenty of delicious sweetness!
Yum, I could eat my weight in this! So pretty too :) Happy Easter to you and your family!
Hi Evelyne, it's not often that poppy seeds go rancid -- most of us buy small quantities, and use them pretty quickly -- but it can happen. We've been getting really good strawberries for the last couple of weeks. Not local ones yet, though -- those will be along shortly. Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, poppy seed dressing is really good, isn't it? And works so well with strawberries! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, the balsamic is more than enough sweetness, IMO. Even if your strawberries aren't totally ripe -- which fortunately, these were. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Chris, we could too! :-) Happy Easter, and thanks for the comment.
Ahh, this gorgeous salad is calling out to me! We have yet more snow falling today and I'm desperately craving spring flavors. Thank you for sharing it and I hope you and Mrs. KR have a happy Easter!
Hi Hannah, Mrs KR and I actually wore shorts on our walk today. :-) You'll have warm weather soon! Make one of these to speed it up. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks delicious John, maybe I get a chance to make it here in Germany. It's raining and cod in Northern Germany.
There is just something about a spinach and strawberry salad -- this would look great for Easter dinner!
Gorgeous salad John, this has to be one of my favorites, the dressing sounds like something I would want to drink it sounds so good.
Hi Gerlinde, hope you do have a chance to make it! It's such a nice dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, isn't this a great combo of flavors? SO good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, I haven't tried to drink the dressing, but I certainly do taste it when I make it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a refreshing and tantalizing salad, John! I'm waiting patiently for strawberry season, oh so many delights to devour!!!
Thank you so much for sharing...love the Easter banter:) Hope all is well in your little corner of the world:)
That is summer on a plate and if that's what rabbits eat in your neck of the woods, I'm putting on bunny ears and moving.
Hi Louise, love strawberry season! Really good to "see" you again -- we're doing well, and hope you are too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Maureen, rabbit ears can come in handy at dinner time, can't they? :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love how simple and beautiful this salad is! I have a similar combination on the menu for tomorrow. I could eat strawberries every single day and never tire of their flavor. Have a blessed Easter John and Mrs. Riffs
A beautiful salad indeed. Try adding some prawns (shrimp). xx
I love the bright colors of this salad. It is perfect for spring and Easter. The strawberry and the spinach is the perfect combination.
I think I have all the ingredients. I know what I am having. I do keep poppy seed in the freezer. Also sesame seeds and nuts. I have to mark them carefully or the become UFOs. (unidentified frozen objects.)
Hi Tricia, we'd never tire of strawberries either! Such a wonderful fruit. Have a terrific Easter, and thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, shrimp would be wonderful with this! Great idea. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dawn, aren't the colors great? So are the flavors! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Madonna, we have more than a few UFOs in our freezer! :-( Thanks for the comment.
I am so thrilled it's finally spring! Both spinach and strawberries are in season here and I couldn't be happier! A scrumptious and healthy recipe, a salad everyone can enjoy.
Hi Deb, it's been a pretty mild winter here, but always glad to see fresh produce! Spring eating is the best! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Strawberries and spinach - what showstopper colors. It's always nice when a fruit finds its way into a salad. Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Jeff, those colors are great, aren't they? So is the flavor! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I just washed and sliced a container of strawberries and I saw your delightful dish. Loving the addition of poppy seeds and how simple this one comes together. The strawberries are so sweet! Gorgeous photos! Pinned!
Hi Bobbi, isn't this dish a great way to use strawberries? Not that most of us have any problem in that regard, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.
When I was younger, I loveddddddd strawberries! They're so delicious! I hated spinach back then. Ha! But now, I eat TRUCK LOADS of spinach and no strawberries!
Hi GiGi, you could probably substitute salmon for the strawberries. :D Thanks for the comment.
Now this would be a nice colorful salad to wake up to on Easter morning- might be a nice change from all those chocolate eggs!
I'm making a strawberry and spinach salad to take to a family Easter dinner Sunday. Slightly different dressing, but I already made it -- no switching now! I'll just be careful not to dress it too soon, or too much. Deadly. Enjoy your Easter!
Yay for strawberry season. This silly wabbit loves your version of balsamic and poppy seeds.
Hi Fran, love chocolate eggs, but one can ingest only so many. Hence, this salad. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosemary, I like to dress my salad at the last minute, if possible. Although like you, I'll often make my dressing ahead of time. Happy Easter, and thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, wabbits everywhere like this combo! :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, I love the combination of strawberries and spinach...this salad is so pretty and absolutely delicious with the poppy seed dressing.
I hope you are enjoying your week :)
I almost. Didn't. Click on. This recipe. Poppy seed dressings/vinaigrettes usually contain 1/2 cup sugar, and it makes me cringe. THANK YOU for not including sugar in your recipe!!! Beautiful salad.
Hi Juliana, we love the looks of this salad! And the flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mimi, we don't much like the sugared versions of poppy seed dressing -- way too sweet. Thanks for the comment.
This would look beautiful on my Easter table this year! I love fresh strawberries this time of year. Thank you for the recipe!
This is a lovely salad, looks so fresh and the strawberries look amazing. Very good recipe.
Haha... you and Mrs KR should totally have a podcast, you'd go off. :)
Love the salad too, fresh and pretty and my tastebuds say YES to combination of flavours. Strawberries are very expensive for us at the minute, but I'll have a look at some seasonal fruit and whip up this bad boy.
Hi Ashley, isn't this pretty? Really good, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amira, you'll love this! SO full of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anna, you may have to wait until your spring to try this combo (although spinach and oranges without the strawberries make a great salad with the poppy seed dressing). Thanks for the comment.
This salad looks so yummy. Wow.
Hi Lux, it's good stuff! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yay!! I love strawberry season and salads with them combined with spinach. This looks really delicious!
Hi Amy, strawberry season is wonderful, isn't it? Can't get enough of them! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Berries and spinach make a delicious salad. I love that you put poppy seeds in the balsamic dressing! I'm going to have to do that too the next time I make a batch. Gorgeous pictures as always, John! :)
Hi Marcelle, balsamic and poppy seeds play together nicely. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a fresh and elegant salad. Wonderful. Hope you're enjoying the holiday.
Hi Amalia, we always enjoy a holiday! Lots to eat and drink. :-) Hope you are too -- thanks for the comment.
I've recently fallen in love with poppy seed dressing, and was just thinking I need a recipe to make my own. Thanks for filling me in! I'll be sure to try this one.
Hi Beth, I think you'll like this dressing -- loads of flavor, and not at all sweet. Winner! :-) Thanks for the comment.
After the deluge of rain we've had this winter, it is sooo nice to see spring has sprung with strawberries at the farmers markets. Just looking at them makes me think of sunshine. This salad is the perfect way to showcase the beautiful berries. too.
Hi Carolyn, love strawberries at this time of the year! And salad. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Interesting salad, definitely one of the things I will add on my to do list. I love experimenting and trying out salads like this. Yum!
Hi Raymund, this is a fun one to try! Nice combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.
How pretty! The strawberries and spinach look so vibrant and crisp.
Hi Vicki, doesn't this dish look great? And its flavor is wonderful. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh what a pretty salad, John! I love spinach and strawberries together. With a perfect balsamic vinaigrette, too. I can't wait to pick strawberries at my local farm next month. And you're right. This salad just screams 'spring is here'! :)
Hi Anne, spring is good. This salad is better. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have seen the dressing with poppy seeds and I've been curious. I don't think I've tried it before even at restaurants. I love bagels with poppy seeds and that's probably the only time I eat poppy seeds. Thanks for inspiring me. Love balsamic dressing so I'm going to try your recipe soon! Got lots of organic strawberries too!
Hi Nami, poppy seed bagels are probably our favorite! This is a fun salad dressing -- bet you'll like. And how can you possibly go wrong with strawberries? :-) Thanks for the comment.
That looks good John. And sunshine or spring sounds good too but sadly it's been raining here all day. I love adding balsamic to strawberries. Such a great combination!
Hi Simone, balsamic and strawberries is a terrific combo! Love that pairing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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