Nothing says summer like a Strawberry Spinach Salad with a drizzle of homemade Poppy Seed Dressing. It’s going to be a new family favorite.
A classic Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing is a staple in my household for summer dinners. It’s easy to throw together or even prep ahead of time and, just like all our other strawberry recipes, showcases the sweetness of summer strawberries so well.
Ingredients For Delicious Strawberry Spinach Salad
Of course you need to start with the star of the show – fresh, juicy strawberries! Look for bright red berries in the store, with no dark mushy parts (overripe) and the least amount of white or yellow flesh around the leaves (underripe). Want to up the fruit factor? Add in other fresh berries or mandarin oranges as well.
Spinach and strawberries are a classic salad combo. If you’d prefer not to do all spinach, you can toss in some arugula or Spring mix salad greens as well.
In my world, a good salad needs some texture and a crunchy element. In this case, pecans! I just chop them, but you could lightly toast them as well. For the sake of staying cool, I don’t do this unless my stove is on already for other things. Not a fan of pecans? Try a different nut like walnuts or almonds, or keep it nut-free by subbing in sunflower seeds or pepitas.
Next up is to add some creaminess, I’m talking cheese. We’re going to use some creamy, tangy feta cheese for this strawberry salad, but goat cheese would be a good substitute.
The crunch of chopped pecans and tanginess of crumbled feta are a perfect combination to make sure all your senses are satisfied with every bite. What truly rounds it out though, is the poppy seed dressing.
Making Perfect Poppy Seed Dressing
I add a few extras to this popular vinaigrette-based dressing to make it unique.
While a typical vinaigrette is usually 1 part vinegar to 3 parts olive oil, I like to go a little heavy-handed on the vinegar for extra tang and to cut down on the oiliness by using 3 parts vinegar to 5 parts olive oil. Cutting down on the oil also allows the other components to shine through.
Though you may consider cutting the sugar, it’s a necessary ingredient to make it a true poppy seed dressing. Speaking of poppy seeds, while they don’t add a lot of flavor, they add another texture to the dish. Adding a bit of Dijon mustard gives just the perfect tang. Be sure to shake the dressing thoroughly to ensure the sugar is all dissolved right before serving.
Our trick to perfectly blended dressing is to use a salad shaker (like this one) or a canning jar with a lid. Both make it super easy to dump all the ingredients in and shake until everything is well emulsified (mixed together). This might even be a job for the kids.
While I definitely recommend making this tasty dressing, you can often find a variation of it in stores. Another option is grabbing a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette, which I almost always have on hand, as strawberries and balsamic vinegar are another great combination.
Make It A Meal
While this salad makes a great side dish, you can easily turn it into a filling meal. Try slicing grilled chicken to add on top or a hearty grain like farro. Let me know in the comments how you like to enjoy this salad recipe!Print
- 3 Tbsp. white vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
- 8 oz. baby spinach
- 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- In a small bowl or salad dressing shaker, mix together vinegar and olive oil. Then add sugar, poppy seeds, Dijon, and salt and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- In four bowls, evenly distribute spinach, quartered strawberries, chopped pecans, and feta.
- Drizzle with poppy seed dressing and serve.
This post originally appeared in June 2018 and was revised and republished in April 2022.