I love spinach salads, especially with light and refreshing dressings. One of the first spinach salads I had ever made was one with all kinds of fruit - strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, kiwi, fresh pineapple, etc. - and then drizzled with fresh orange juice, which I still love. But, especially with summer coming now, I also like to have salads as a meal. Here in Wisconsin, it gets so humid, and I can hardly stand to eat anything really heavy. So, salads are a great dinner alternative!
This salad is kind of like one that I make at my work, but a little bit different. I definitely used some of the same ideas, but then made it my own. I especially like to add chicken or turkey breast to my salads (or the imitation crabmeat that always goes on sale), but I don’t ever buy the precooked and packaged stuff. Especially when doing it yourself is so easy and so much better for you! If you are making chicken for dinner, throw a couple of extra chicken pieces in with the others and then you can use the leftovers for salads and such. If you’re not already preparing it, throw a couple chicken breasts in a saucepan with some water or chicken broth and boil until the chicken is cooked through. Easy peasy! And you get the added benefit of knowing what’s really in your cooked chicken, as opposed to the packaged varieties which contain a lot of chemicals and preservatives.
For the dressing, I had wanted something that was a little less oil & vinegary than the poppy seed dressing I’ve made before, but wanted to keep the poppy seed dressing aspect of it because it goes so well with fruit. I found this recipe while searching for what I wanted, and it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment. If you use less mayonnaise the dressing will be a little thinner, but I like the way the thicker dressing adheres to the spinach leaves. Of course, you can always buy the packaged dressing instead, if you prefer!
2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
⅛ small red onion, sliced
1 chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
8 strawberries, sliced
½ c. blueberries
3 Tbsp. sliced almonds
Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing, recipe follows
Arrange the spinach leaves on two large plates. Evenly distribute the sliced red onion, chicken breast pieces, sliced strawberries, blueberries, and sliced almonds between the two plates, arranging everything on top of the spinach. Drizzle with the creamy poppy seed dressing. Makes 2 large salads
Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing:
1 - 1½ c. mayonnaise
½ c. Half & Half
¼ c. white wine or champagne vinegar
½ c. white sugar
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
Stir the mayonnaise, Half & Half, vinegar, sugar, and poppy seeds together until the sugar has dissolved.