I don’t particularly favor spring, and I am not big on salads. But as I feel invigorated and stimulated by a recent trip to the Girls Strawberry U-pick farm and the season’s generous offerings, I give my list of New Year’s resolutions another look and my pledge to eat more of the green leafy stuff another go. I open up my family’s spring 2012 fare with a big bowl of mixed spring lettuce, baby spinach, grape tomatoes, English cucumber, green onions, kiwis, strawberries, and clementines, all nicely coated with homemade vinaigrette of rich corn oil and tangy apple cider vinegar. This smooth, yet very flavorful, dressing boasts a crunch of poppy seeds, a zing of dry mustard, and a versatility to shine or sub in other salads.
It’s quick and easy to whip up and holds nicely in the fridge for a couple of days. The fruits and veggies called for in the original recipe offer you a lot of wiggle room, depending on your local farmers market’s selections; for a distinct seasonal touch, try substituting strawberries and kiwis for blueberries and peaches in the summertime. Raspberries and blackberries would also make a lovely presentation.
My version of this salad bridged two seasons by welcoming the spring with freshly picked strawberries and by saying goodbye to the winter with the last of the clementines that I used instead of canned mandarin oranges. This juicy, sugary baby cousin of the customary orange is sure to steal the spotlight in case you decide to go totally fresh. After all, nothing beats the robust flavor and health benefits of sun-ripened fresh produce, thus making this salad live up to its name.
Adapted from Come to the Table: Food, Fellowship, and a Celebration of God’s Bounty by Benita Long
1 lb. soft salad greens
1 lb. baby spinach
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 European cucumber, sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 (14 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
1 cup corn oil
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. sea salt
Pepper to taste
For the dressing, in a bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the salad, in a large serving bowl gently toss the salad greens, spinach, kiwis, cucumber, tomatoes, mushrooms, mandarin oranges, strawberries, and spring onions. Just before serving, add the dressing and toss.
Makes 20 servings