Spinach Strawberry Salad with Candied Almonds and Poppyseed Dressing

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

 

Salad:

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.

 

Dressing:

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.

 

Candied Almonds:

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.

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Sausage and Herb Dressing

This sausage stuffing has ruined me for any other store-bought boxed stuffing.  It is so flavorful and moist and the aromatic herbs are key to a good Thanksgiving side dish.

My hubby grew up with your red box variety of stuffing and requested that for Thanksgiving this year.  I very lovingly told him………..”NO,”  I had something better in mind.  If you grew up with the store-bought stuff too, I beg you to try this recipe.

It’s a bit more work, but it will not disappoint………I promise.

 

I used one and a half of the french bread loaf.

 

Cube into 1 inch squares and bake until completely dried.

 

Diced celery.

 

Diced onions.

 

Diced granny smith apples.

I’ve always wondered about the name of this apple.

Who is Granny Smith anyway? Regardless, I love her apples!

 

Flat leaf parsley, thyme and rosemary from my herb garden.

 

Everything sauted together.

 

Italian sausage cooked and added to the mix.  There’s a glimpse of my kitchen cabinet and microwave on the right. That’s what happens when I use reflective stainless steel bowls, I guess!

 

Sausage and Herb Dressing

16 cups 1-inch French bread cubes, (1 ½ pound loaf)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups onion, diced

1 ½ cups celery, diced

2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed

4 cups chicken stock


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the bread cubes to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bread cubes.

In the same sauté pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking. Add to the bread cubes and vegetables.

Add the chicken stock to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.