Even though it is technically still spring right now, where I am, the weather has been in the 80’s this week and that makes me think of summer. Summer makes me think of eating lighter and that’s what led to this summery salad of spinach and strawberries.
To start this salad, I need to make the candied almonds first. I’ve been trying to find healthier snacks, since summer is approaching. So, I bought this huge bag of raw almonds. They are not the tastiest thing compared to roasted and salted almonds, but I’ve come to enjoy the fresher, cleaner flavor.
So, since I have this big bag of almonds, I thought it would be good to add to the salad for a crunchy texture. But, I couldn’t just leave them plain and naked. It just wouldn’t stand up to the strawberries or dressing in this salad. So, I had to dress them up.
So, here’s what I did. Start by bringing to boil, brown sugar, water and cinnamon.
**The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but next time I will reduce that to a 1/2 cup. It ended up being too much liquid, even after reducing.
Throw in the almonds and let it come back to a boil.
Once it’s rapidly boiling, turn the mixture to medium heat and stir constantly with a spoon.
It will eventually reduce down to a thick, rich syrup.
Spoon the almonds onto a baking sheet with wax paper and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Now for the poppy seed dressing. Just throw in all the ingredients and stir until the sugar is melted and combined.
This dressing is perfect for spinach because it cuts through the mild bitterness of raw spinach. It also just looks so pretty with the stratified layer of sesame and poppy seeds. Yes, I said stratified!!
Here’s the whole thing all put together. When you take your first bite, please make sure you get all the components onto your fork in one bite. You’ll understand why when you combine the bitterness of the spinach, sweet juiciness of the strawberry and crunch of the almond, smothered with poppy seed dressing goodness. That’s serious YUM!
Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing and Candied Almonds
1 bag baby spinach
1 pint strawberries, sliced
Layer spinach, strawberries and candied almonds in a large bowl. Pour on the poppy seed dressing right before eating.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a measuring cup and stir until the sugar melts and the dressing becomes viscous. This will make more than you need, so you can store for future use.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups whole almonds
Combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; add the almonds. Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup-like coating on the almonds. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Separate almonds using forks. Allow to cool about 15 minutes.
This will make more than you need, so you can store in an air-tight container for future use.