Strawberry Salad – pretty as a picture and tastes even better! With spinach, lightly candied pecans, avocado, feta and a poppyseed dressing, this is a bit of a show off salad but it’s super straightforward and worth the effort.
One of the most fabulous new salads I’ve tried in years!
I’m finding more and more that I’m being nominated as the designated Salad Bringer. Something about people thinking I cook so much for my job, surely I don’t want to make something big to bring along.
Pfft! Side salad? I want to do the centrepiece!!! Or a show stopping dessert!
So I’ve been progressively building an arsenal of what I call “Show-Off” salads – to make myself feel better, that I’m making a worthy contribution. You want a side salad?? I’ll show you a side salad!!
They’re not technically challenging or calling for fussy gourmet ingredients.
They’re just extra special salads that look as great as they taste – and this Strawberry Salad is my latest!
There’s a few components to this salad:
- Poppyseed Dressing – dump and shake
- Lightly candied pecans – quick and easy, 5 minute job
- The salad part – chopping the strawberries is the part that takes the longest!
- Assembling – dress the spinach, then layer up the salad. No point tossing, the strawberries end up at the bottom!
What you need
Baby spinach is my favourite type of green fluffage for this salad because it’s got a lovely mild flavour and a soft texture that I think goes well with strawberries. Other mild lettuces will work well – just avoid ones like rocket/arugula (peppery) and radicchio (bitter).
The avocado is optional, I’d happily scoff this salad down even without. But it’s so good WITH it – that little creaminess with all the other stuff going on here is terrific!
The pecans are just lightly candied because we don’t need tons of sweetness (nor toffee sticking in our teeth). The strawberries add enough fresh sweetness, and also the dressing is not the zingy sour type, it’s creamy and a bit sweet.
Poppyseed Dressing – So much more than just another dressing with the addition of lots of little black bits! The poppyseed add nuttiness to the dressing which adds an extra something-something to this salad.
It’s not as zingy as most dressings – it’s a bit creamy (from the mayo) with a touch of sweet. And I think it goes so well with the fresh juicy sweetness of strawberries!
I find that Strawberry Salads are best layered rather than tossed. If you toss it all together, then all the good stuff ends up on the bottom of the bowl!
(The good “stuff” being the strawberries, candied pecans, avocado and feta.)
So the way I put this salad together, I toss the spinach with a bit of dressing, then layer it up as shown below. Usually 3 layers for a giant salad for gatherings, or 2 if it’s just a smaller side salad for dinner.
Make this Strawberry Salad as…
- Side salad for dinner – I usually skip the candied pecans and just use plain pecans. It’s pretty quick to put together if you skip this. It fresh enough to pair with mains with big flavours, such as BBQ Beef Brisket. But also flavourful and interesting enough to have on the side of quick everyday mains such as Garlic Chicken Thighs, Baked Fish, sticky country style Baked Pork Chops or some quick Garlic Prawns (Shrimp!)
- A meal in itself – it’s so scoffable, this is definitely a salad worthy of a meal! I’ve been having it for lunch with nothing else on the side and its kept me satisfied all afternoon. Mind you, I had generous servings!
- Try adding chicken! This Marinated Chicken Breast is ideal, or this Baked Chicken Breast. Slice it and serve on top or on the side.
- IMPRESS YOUR FAMILY and FRIENDS! Take this to the next gathering where you’re asked to bring a salad and bask in the glow of praises!
Yes, the last point is the main purpose behind the creation of this salad and yes, I’m really that immature. – Nagi x
More Show Off Salads
- Apple Salad with Candied Walnuts and Cranberries – that’s plumped cranberries, not just shrivelled up dried ones!
- Pearl Couscous Salad and Wild Rice Salad – colourful, loaded with textures and colours, I make both of these regularly all year round
- Prawn Mango Avocado Summer Salad – reserved for very special occasions!
Watch how to make it
Strawberry Avocado Salad
Recipe video above. A show off salad to impress! Skip the pecans to make it a quick ‘n easy salad for anytime. This makes a BIG salad for sharing (8 – 10 as side). Scale recipe down if needed (click Servings and slide!)
- 180g / 6 oz baby spinach
- 1 red onion ((small), halved and finely sliced)
- 375g / 12 oz ripe strawberries (, sliced (Note 1))
- 2 avocados (, quartered and sliced (Note 2))
- 120g / 4oz feta (, crumbled)
Candied Pecans (Note 3):
- 1 tbsp (15g) butter, unsalted
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 1 cup pecans (, roughly chopped)
- 1 tbsp eschallots ((French onion), very finely chopped)
- 2.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp poppyseeds
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Place Dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. Set aside for 10 minutes+ (keeps for a week).
Place butter and sugar in a non stick skillet over medium high. When butter is melted, add nuts.
Stir 5 minutes – sugar will go sandy, then eventually melt into a caramel.
Once sugar melts, cook for 2 minutes then spread pecans out on tray.
- Cool then break to separate.
- Place spinach and onion in a bowl, drizzle with about 3 tbsp Dressing, toss.
- Transfer 1/3 spinach in a bowl. Scatter over 1/3 of each strawberries, avocado, feta, pecans. Drizzle with a bit of dressing.
- Top with another 1/3 spinach, strawberries, avocado, feta, pecans, then a bit more Dressing. Repeat once more.
- Serve immediately!
1. Strawberries 375g / 12 oz = 1 1/2 Aussie punnets, 1 US pint. About 15 large(ish) strawberries.
2. Avocado – I often skip avo when making this as a quick side salad midweek.
3. Candied pecans – the candying makes this extra special. But for everyday purposes, I skip the candying and use plain pecans. Also feel free to use other nuts! Flaked almonds or roughly chopped almonds are especially terrific.
Nut allergy? Try candied sunflower seeds! I haven’t made it but have tried it and it’s delish. The recipe should work just fine!
4. Recipe source – inspired by a bunch of recipes found online, dressing recipe my own, this Poppyseed Dressing recipe.
5. Serving size – serves 8 to 12 as a side dish, 4 to 5 as a meal.
6. Storage – once dressed, it won’t keep well so try to keep leftovers undressed. After dressing, the spinach gets a bit wilted after about 30 minutes or so.
To take this somewhere, keep the components separate then assemble before serving.
Avo prep tip: Cut in half and remove seed. Leave flesh in skin and cut into pieces using small knife (ie in the skin). Drizzled cut surface with lemon juice, return seed, put halves together. Place in airtight container with 1/2 freshly cut brown onion. Onion + seed + lemon juice = keeps avo green for days! To serve, use spoon to scoop flesh out – because it’s already cut, pieces will fall into the salad! Leave a comment below if you want a video for this Avo prep ahead tip!
Life of Dozer
He couldn’t figure out how to get through the dog door with his new toy….
Ahhh Dozer. You might not be the sharpest tool in the shed but you’ve got a heart of gold and you’re damn cute, so we love you anyway!