Strawberry Fields Salad with Avocado Poppyseed Dressing
June 9, 2017 by Nicole Collins
This is my favorite time of year to eat.
I am so IN LOVE with the fresh produce that you can get from the start of spring through the end of summer. In truth, if I could survive without eating all through fall or winter, I would. I get so sad with the strawberries, and watermelon, and corn on the cob, and cantaloupe, and all the other amazing summer fruits and veggies go out of season. I'm not much of a root veggie or squash fan, so end of the year produce is depressing to me.
I mean, sure. I'm not going to turn my nose up at a piece of pumpkin pie, but that's what the canned stuff is for. Give me summer produce all year long!
As much as I love fruit (except oranges...yuck!), I used to be totally disgusted by the idea of putting fruit in salad. I used to be a salad minimalist...lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, croutons, ranch dressing. ← Kinda feel like that deserves a yuck too.
I don't know what used to bother me about fruit in salads. There was something about blending the sweet/savory line that really freaked me out. One day, someone snuck some apple in to a salad I was eating, and the rest was history.
I think apple was a good gateway fruit for me. I actually didn't even realize what was happening until I was almost finished eating the salad. And then the lightbulb went off. I was like “Wait a minute...is there fruit in my salad right now? Why do I want to keep eating it right now?”
That hidden apple in my salad was a game changer for me. Next thing I knew, I was putting pineapple in my salads, because pineapple can go on tacos and that's savory, so why not. And then I tried salad with blueberries. And then strawberries. And now, I almost can't imagine a salad without some kind of fruit in it.
I also had a wrap once that had strawberries in it. It was weird because I knew that it was a strawberry, but my brain was trying to act like it was a tomato. It's crazy how our brain redirects for us sometimes to help us make sense of a something nonsensical. Not that strawberries are nonsensical, of course.
Today's salad is one of my favorite salads to make. It's got sweet stuff. It's got salty stuff. It's got crunchy stuff. It's got creamy stuff. It's got poppy stuff. But most important, it's got HEALTHY STUFF!!!
For our greens, we're using fresh spinach. I LOVE LOVE LOVE dark greens, and fresh spinach is almost always in my salad base. You can use regular spinach or baby spinach. It doesn't really matter. I find that regular spinach tends to be a little cheaper, so I just tear it with my hands so I don't look like a panda bear shoving leaves in my mouth. I'm certainly not one to fork and knife a salad, like a lady with oversized greens should, so it's all going in regardless of the size.
For our toppings, we start with my salty trinity: bacon, feta, and pistachios. Bacon is salty in a luxurious way. Feta is salty in a creamy crumbly way. And pistachios are salty in a crunchy way. You certainly can't go wrong with that combo. And, all three together perfectly balance out the sweetness that the fresh summer strawberries bring to town. MMM...those strawberries though...
To bulk up this salad, I added some roasted chicken for protein. You could certainly leave that out though and just serve this salad as a side dish. I'm flexible!
Now the Avocado Poppyseed Dressing is where we can really feel good about keeping this salad healthy. A traditional poppyseed dressing has a mayo/cream base. But, I replaced the mayo with some avocado so we get the good kind of fat in our salad dressing. Then I swapped out the cream element with some almond milk. I didn't try it, but I bet coconut milk would really kick this dressing up a notch too. Regardless, the dressing still has that tangy sweet creaminess that makes a poppyseed dressing so yummy, so you'd barely know about my swap out if the dressing wasn't green.
Random side note...my mom is definitely the kind of person that won't eat certain things based on color alone, so she would probably be freaked out by this dressing. I blame Heinz's experiment of selling green and purple ketchup a few years back for her fear of colorful food. She swears it didn't taste like ketchup. I didn't have the guts to try it. I guess that was her brain redirecting for her.
Anyways, green is good when it comes to salad, so no reason to freak out here. Really, the only thing you need to do is go make this salad immediately before all the strawberries are gone...well the good strawberries anyway. I'm planning a visit to a Farmer's Market tomorrow, so I'll be picking up supplies to make this salad for the third week in a row. It's that good!
Not like you need any more reasons to make this asap, but this salad does well as a meal prep lunch too. Just leave the pistachios and dressing on the side, and add them when it's time to eat.
I know you'll enjoy, so let's eat!
Strawberry Fields Salad with
Avocado Poppyseed Dressing
Serves: 4 Print
For the Salad:
6 cups fresh spinach, torn
12 strawberries, sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 lb cooked chicken, chopped
4 oz feta, crumbled
¼ cup pistachios, shelled
For the Avocado Poppyseed Dressing:
½ avocado, peeled and pitted
1 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tbsp agave
½ tbsp olive oil
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp poppyseeds
Make the dressing: Place all ingredients for dressing except poppyseeds in a small food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Stir in poppyseeds.
Assemble the salad: Divide spinach, strawberries, bacon, chicken, feta and pistachios evenly between 4 dishes. Drizzle with Avocado Poppyseed Dressing. Serve.
*If meal prepping in advance, wait until serving to add the dressing and pistachios to the salad.
*I use roasted chicken breast tenders seasoned with a coarse seasoned salt for my chicken in this salad. To roast, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil, and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Lay the tenders on the prepared pan, and spritz the top side of the chicken with olive oil cooking spray. Season both sides with 1-2 tsp coarse seasoned salt. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, flip the tenders, and put them back in the oven for another 8 minutes. Cool, and chop!
*You can use salted or unsalted pistachios...whichever you prefer.