Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Juice is Worth The Squeeze

I typically try my best to veer away from recipes that require too much elbow grease on my end.  As much as I love to cook, I don’t always enjoy the time spent in the kitchen.  Not to mention, when recipes call for more than 5 ingredients, it’s inevitable that my kitchen will look like a bomb went off. Yikes.  Now, I’m a BIG fan of salads, but I’m one of those "grab-a-bottle-of-salad-dressing-and-pour-it-on-top” kinda girls.  When I found this salad & dressing recipe, I seriously contemplated pulling out a bottle of the pre-made stuff just so I didn’t have to go to all the trouble of making it from scratch, but trust me when I tell you that the juice is totally worth the squeeze!!  This is, hands down, one of THE best salads I’ve ever had!  Just make sure you have some floss on hand when you eat it :)



from Our Best Bites

1 {10 oz.} bag of baby spinach

1/2 – 1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 medium cucumber, seeded and sliced

1 pint strawberries, sliced

1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1/2 lb. grilled chicken breasts, sliced/diced {optional}

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing {recipe below}


Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

2-3 large lemons {I needed 3…you’ll need 1/3 cup and 1 tsp. lemon zest}

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. poppy seeds

1 tsp. grated onion

1 clove pressed garlic


First, let’s go ahead and whip up the salad.  You’ll need to slice your onion, cucumbers, and strawberries.


Toss your bag of spinach in a large bowl and toast your almonds.  To toast your almonds, just toss ‘em into an ungreased skillet in a single layer.  Stir until golden brown.  They’ll burn easily if you don’t keep your eye on ‘em!  You could also toast them in the oven.  Just spread them onto a baking pan in a single layer and heat the oven to 350.  Then bake for about 10-15 minutes, stirring them occasionally until golden brown.

Now toss the almonds, cucumbers, onions, & strawberries in with the spinach.



Now it’s time for the vinaigrette.


You won’t need anymore strawberries, so forget I included those in the pic.  First, let’s go ahead and zest the lemons.  I used the zest off two of them.  I used a regular ol’ zester for mine, but a Microplane would’ve made it SO much easier. Dangit.  Toss the zest into a little tupperware container.  Now grate your onion. {Again, a Microplane would work wonders, but I used my regular ol’ grater}.  Toss that into the tupperware container, too.  In the same container, add the sugar, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, poppy seeds, pressed garlic, and about 3/4 cups of {freshly squeezed} lemon juice.


Now place the top on your container, make sure it’s shut tight, and shake the heck out of it.  You’ll end up with a concoction that looks like this…


Trust me when I tell you that you WON’T want to take the shortcut and get the premade stuff.  This vinaigrette is SO dang good!!!!!!

Scoop a nice little helping of salad onto your plate and drizzle with the vinaigrette.  Keep your floss nearby because those poppy seeds are sneaky and they’ll hide in between your teeth until someone decides to tell you they’re there. 


When I had this recipe in my weekly menu, I intended on making it with grilled chicken just to beef it up a little bit.  It was going to be our main dish.  Mr. Spouse surprised me with with a few big steaks that night, so I left out the chicken and served the salad as an accompaniment to our steaks.  OH.MY.WORD.  Seriously TO DIE FOR!!!!!!!!!!!!


Mr. Spouse LOVED the salad, too! I was SO happy I didn’t take any shortcuts.  Even though my kitchen was a HOT mess when it was all said and done…and I *might* have had a serious case of carpal tunnel after grating and juicing…it was SO worth it!!!  I can’t wait to serve this as our main dish with a few strips of grilled chicken to top it all off!  It’s seriously the PERFECT salad!


This is definitely a dish you can go back for multiple helpings and NOT feel guilty in the least.  Great.  Now my mouth is watering. I’m headed out to pick up these ingredients NOW!!!!! 


  1. I make a strawberry salad with poppyseed dressing that is very similar to this. I love it! I can't wait to try this version :)

  2. k - i've never had strawberries in a salad but want to try this and LOVE the idea of this dressing - definitely making it!

  3. What an awesome recipe! My hubs would LOVE this. Must make for dinner next week :)