I came across this recipe recently, and I knew right away that I would be making it. I’ve been working on my contribution for National Grilled Cheese Month, and have been looking for something light and fruity to go with my sandwich. I had previously served it with a couple of different kinds of soup, but none of the soups ever seemed to taste right with the sandwich. I could have gone with a fruit soup, I suppose, but I didn’t really want to go that route…
What I loved about the recipe is that it’s very similar to one that I’ve made many times before. For several years, I’ve really enjoyed spinach salads with fresh fruit, but had never added the apples or pears. Since the pears are in my sandwich, I thought it would be a nice compliment to add those, instead of all apples, and then I had a bunch of other fresh fruit in the refrigerator so added that as well. One of the things I did change, though, was the dressing. I really like poppy seed dressing, and it goes so well with the fruit that I just knew I had to use that for this salad!
For the dressing, I used a recipe from the Taste of Home website as my base and adjusted it to suit my own tastes. I’m not a fan of anything overly sweet so I didn't use very much sugar, and I thought that any more than what I had already added of the oil would make the dressing taste too greasy and heavy. When making the dressing, you’re trying to achieve an emulsion, so you want to make sure to add only a small drizzle of oil at a time while whisking constantly. If you have any leftover dressing, feel free to cover and refrigerate it. I was using mine the next day, so I just left it sitting out on the counter overnight, as there is really nothing in it that would cause it to spoil. If you'd prefer, you can use a pre-made poppy seed dressing, but I would encourage you to at least try this... It's really not difficult to make, it tastes incredibly light and fresh (especially since you can control how much of every ingredient to add, like the oil), and there are no artificial colors, preservative, and other junk in it!
Overall, I think this is really a great salad! If you’re looking for a very light lunch or dinner, you could simply add some cooked chicken breast and perhaps a couple shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese to make it more substantial. And, just like pretty much everything else, if you don’t like something in it, take it out. If you don’t have something, or would prefer something else, change it.
1 (5 oz.) bag Spring Mix lettuce
1 (6 oz.) bag baby spinach
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 ripe pear, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
1 Gala apple, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
½ pint strawberries, quartered
2 c. fresh pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces
1 c. mandarin oranges, drained
3 kiwis, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
2 oz. sliced almonds
1 (6oz.) bag dried cranberries
Poppy Seed Dressing:
½ c. sugar
⅓ c. cider vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. canola oil
Make the poppy seed dressing: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard, poppy seeds, and salt. Slowly add oil, whisking briskly. Cover until serving.
Mix the lettuce and spinach to combine well. Arrange the fruit and onion on top of the lettuce mixture; sprinkle with the sliced almonds and dried cranberries. Serve drizzled with poppy seed dressing.