|Strawberry Spinach Salad with a crunchy ramen and nut topping and dressed with a creamy mayonnaise-based poppyseed dressing.|
Strawberry Spinach SaladYou may have noticed by now that salads make an appearance in the background of many of my photographs, and that's because we eat salads almost every single day in my household. It helps us to balance our plates and still enjoy our favorite Southern recipes in moderation.
My husband loves a great mixed garden salad, and it's a good thing, because it's one of the few ways that I can get some extra greens and veggies into this non-veggie eater, by including them in our salads. He isn't a very big fruit eater either - unless it's disguised in ice cream or a dessert - but even he enjoys this classic strawberry salad.
I love the unusual addition of the same crunchies I use on my Everything Salad and by the way, you can buy the plain Japanese noodles in the Asian section of your market, though to be honest... the packets of ramen are much less expensive. There is no need to feel embarrassed about buying ramen noodles. I mean, c'mon... who among us hasn't lived off of those packets of noodles at one time or another in our lives? Truth is, I still enjoy a packet now and again myself, but, if you want to feel a little bit more sophisticated, these are available.
Strawberry salad is very often made with a basic vinaigrette, and in fact you could use the same dressing from my Everything Salad here too, but I think that it's perfect for a creamy style of poppy seed dressing and I favor that over the vinaigrette myself. This makes a large bowl of salad but you want it lightly dressed, so I find that a half recipe of the original dressing recipe works well, though if your crew likes a heavy dressing, you may want to double the batch to have some extra on the table.
This is a great base salad to work with too, so make it with your own touches. A little avocado is a nice addition. I like romaine and baby spinach but throw in some nice baby greens, arugula, watercress or butter leaf lettuce too. You may like to add a grilled chicken breast or some grilled or pan seared shrimp to include a bit of protein.
I do like a little cheese on my strawberry salad, though I find some of the ones that are more commonly used to be a bit overpowering for this delicate salad. Feta, goat, bleu, gorgonzola all work well, though I prefer the more neutral queso fresco cheese. Crushed candied nuts also make a great topping in place of the toasted buttery noodles I use here. Anyway you make it, it's really a great spring salad.
Here's how I make it.
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Recipe: Strawberry Spinach Salad©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
For the Crunchy Topping:
For the Dressing:
- 1 package ramen noodles, crushed (discard flavor packet)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of sea or kosher salt
For the Salad:
- 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons of apple cider or white vinegar
- 1/3 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon of grated onion, with juice, optional
- 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
- 2 tablespoons of milk, or as needed
- 1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed and dried
- 4 cups of loosely packed fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, optional
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta, goat, bleu, gorgonzola or queso fresco cheese
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced or diced, optional
For the topping, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the ramen noodles, almonds and pecans; sprinkle with salt and pour melted butter on top and toss. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool until ready to serve the salad.
For the dressing, whisk together the sugar and vinegar until blended. Whisk in the mayonnaise, onion and juice and poppy seeds until well blended, adding milk only if needed for desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Tear the lettuce into a large bowl and toss with the spinach, cranberries, cheese and strawberries. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Just before serving, gently toss the salad with enough dressing to lightly coat, then sprinkle on the topping, serve immediately. Do not dress the salad in advance. Just before serving, add avocado to top of salad, if desired.
Cook's Notes: For a more classic poppyseed vinaigrette, substitute a vegetable oil for the mayonnaise in the dressing and add a pinch of dry mustard.
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©Deep South Dish
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