Summertime! it's synonymous with salads. Hot sunny days call for something fresh, bright and refreshing. And this salad simply nails it...and then some. This is totally one of our very favorite salads. Every fork full offers some combination of taste bud heaven...and if you're lucky enough to get all the goods on your fork all at once...you'll feel utterly spoiled. It's perfect for a lunch since it's a meal unto itself. We recently had this on a not too hot day on the deck with my brother Walt. It was the weekend and he was in his favorite spot...all covered in grease, lying on his back under his jeep. The kid LIVES to do dirty work! We went out to the driveway and yelled "30 minute warning...there will be a delicious salad served on the deck...show up with washed hands!" So a half hour later he had scrubbed hit blackened mitts as best as he could and pulled up a chair at the picnic table. He loved it! And even though it's a salad, it also has enough substance to fuel you though the rest of your hard day.
There's tender spinach, sweet berries, creamy avocado, tangy blue cheese, onion, and the crunch of the toasted almonds takes it to a whole 'nother level. So so good. And in a matter of a minute or two you can whisk up a yummy homemade dressing that perfectly compliments the fab ingredients! Also, if you want to make this into your dinner, just add some grilled chicken...perfect!
Here is what you will need:
spinach (washed, dried, and chopped)
strawberries (washed, dried and sliced)
1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
1 avocado (cubed)
1/2 red onion (sliced)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey (you could use sugar)
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
First toast your almonds. It makes all the difference...the flavor level gets kicked up ten notches and texture-wise the toasted almonds add a perfect light crispy crunch. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Then line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread out your slivered almonds in a single layer. Allow them to toast for 10-12 minutes. Give them a little stir or shake every 4 minutes or so. You will know when your nuts are perfectly toasted when they are beginning to brown and your kitchen smells like toasted nuts.
Wash, dry and chop your spinach. Slice the strawberries and onion, and cube your avocado.
Crumble your blue cheese. (unless you purchased it already crumbled...which is fine and dandy!)
Now to prepare your dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk your vinegar, honey, pepper, salt, and mustard. Then whisk in your olive oil and your poppy seeds. Give it a little taste to see what you think, and make adjustments according to your taste...does it need a bit more honey?...or maybe a splash more of vinegar?...let your taste buds do the talking. But also keep in mind the sweetness that the strawberries will bring to the overall flavor...and the tang of the blue cheese etc...
If you are not serving immediately, store in a conatiner than can be shaken well. Or whisk well before serving.
Using a large mixing bowl, layer in your spinach, strawberries, avocado, onions, blue cheese, and almonds. Toss well. We try to be gentle with the tossing in order to keep the avocado cubes nice and intact.
If you are serving right away you can toss with some dressing and then plate. Or drizzle dressing on the individual servings. However you like it!
Seriously...you will feel so spoiled! It's one of those salads that you savor and take your time to eat. Let us know if you make it...we'd love to hear. And of course be sure to tell us about any great additions you may have brought to it.
Thanks so much! We hope you love it!
xo, Jenny & Aaron