It took me a long time to genuinely like salad. This is in large part due to the fact that growing up, “salad” in our house consisted of iceberg lettuce (yuck) topped with sliced carrots (double yuck). That’s it. No wonder I never wanted anything to do with it. Thanks to the brilliance that is Caesar salad, I eventually came around to the concept in general, but even still my taste for salad is typically more traditional. Usually green lettuce topped with various other vegetables, maybe croutons and even cheese if I get really crazy. The idea of fruit on a green salad is one that did not sound appetizing at first, but after having a strawberry-balsamic type salad at a friend’s house several times, I realized that it can actually be a pretty tasty combination.
Last summer I saw this salad on the menu at Panera, but never got around to trying it. When I was planning the menu for our recent 24, 24, 24 party, I was trying to think of a salad that was a little more exciting than the usual tossed green salad, and this immediately came to mind. The poppy seed vinaigrette was quick to mix up with ingredients I already had on hand, and I really enjoyed the flavor. It’s slightly creamy but has a nice citrusy bite from the orange juice and apple cider vinegar. And it turns out that fruit topping a green salad can actually be pretty delicious. Such a mix of gorgeous colorful fruit is pretty hard to resist. (By the way, thanks to my friend Shanon for the beautiful plating job!)
Summer Strawberry Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
For the dressing:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp. minced shallot
¼ tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. light mayonnaise
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. poppy seeds
For the salad:
Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
Strawberries, hulled and sliced
Mandarin orange segments
Fresh pineapple, cubed
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the vinegar, sugar, shallot, dry mustard, salt, mayonnaise and orange juice. Process to blend well. With the feed tube open and the processor on, add the vegetable oil in a steady stream and continue processing until incorporated. Add the poppy seeds and pulse briefly just until blended. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the salad, chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Plate individual servings of the lettuce in salad plates. Top each serving with strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges and pineapple cubes as desired. Drizzle lightly with the poppy seed dressing and serve immediately.
Source: salad inspired by Panera, dressing from Jamie Cooks It Up