Strawberry Salad + Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

“A salad as beautiful as it is bountiful. Edamame and strawberries contrast color and complement flavor like jewels from a farmer’s market. Add a tickle of subtle citrus. Refreshing…and everyone asks for the recipe.” ~ A guest post from my friend, neighbor, and former journalist Kathy Renner.

Part of every year I live next door to Laura Plumb. This is good fortune, yes. It also raises the bar at potluck time. For devotees of this blog, you are correct in assuming that Laura practices what she preaches. She is probably one of the most pure and clean eaters to come across my path. I cannot imagine any untoward calorie or animal part in Laura’s aura, let alone her body.

Though living steps away, my husband and I are food admirers from afar. We eat everything put in front of us, with pleasure. I read Food-A Love Story and adopt a few things, and wish I would take the time to shop, prepare, cook and eat the way Laura does (ergo, look like Laura-have I gone too far?). However, I have made great progress toward healthy eating and squelching my lard-is-love southern roots.

A couple years ago I found this recipe in All Animals, the magazine for Humane Society members and it struck me as a match for a host like myself with good eating intentions and less prep ambition. It was offered as a wrap, great for picnics, but I have served the filling more as a stand-alone salad-both side dish and summer entrée.

So when Laura invited us to dinner and asked me to bring a salad, this recipe was already guest-tested after several luncheons. I thought it just might pass the vegan test. On a balmy summer evening, we sat with Laura and her husband and ate grilled squash and eggplant from their garden. Nibbled on guacamole and home-grown tomatoes. And ate THE salad. It was a divine meal.

Here is the original recipe, with my adjustments below.

Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
Modified sightly from the Original Recipe by Kelly L. Williams
Serves 4-6

6 c baby spinach, loosely packed
2 c arugula, loosely packed
½ c shelled edamame (or fava as in the photos)
1 pint strawberries, tops removed and sliced thin
1 avocado, diced
1/3 c sliced toasted almonds

Makes about 1 cup

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c orange juice
2 t agave nectar or maple syrup
2 t apple cider vinegar
1 T poppy seeds
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Prepare salad by combining the spinach, arugula, edamame, strawberries and avocado in a large blow. Toss gently.
  2. Using an immersion blender or a whisk, combine all dressing ingredients except the poppy seeds until emulsified, then stir in poppy seeds.
  3. Pour most of the dressing over the salad ingredients and mix well. Reserve 1-2 Tbsp dressing for the wraps.


Play with it! I like to throw in a handful of roasted pepitas. I have also tossed in a few blueberries, but let the strawberries rule– I often add more than a pint for color and sweetness. One time I added chopped chicken in the mix. Another time I draped a small filet of salmon over the top. I always double the amount of edamame for flavor, protein and beauty. I wait until just before serving to slice and add a generous amount of avocado (I often use two). Then, also just before serving, I toss all with dressing, but only a fraction of the amount the recipe calls for—a touch does the job, and the salad glistens and looks just-picked. Bon appetit. KR

Kathryn Renner has written home and garden stories for national publications from her office in Seattle. She is now blissfully retired.


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