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Strawberry Feta Spinach Salad w/ Poppy Seed Dressing

Move over all other salad recipes because this strawberry feta spinach salad with homemade poppy seed dressing is the new top dog!

This is the salad recipe I always request when eating dinner with my parents. I’ve always loved poppy seed dressing but mom’s vinaigrette version absolutely trumps any other poppy seed salad dressing out there. And that’s saying a lot because generally a creamy dressing is a crowd favorite. There’s just something so good about those juicy strawberries, chewy bacon pieces, a little tangy saltiness from the feta and then those crunchy almonds all sticky in dressing, it’s the best!

I always think of salads as being simple but the truth is, a really good salad takes some work. Even if it’s just chopping veggies, it can take some time. There are few components to this salad, but it comes together easily and each piece makes the finished product magical. Parts can also be made ahead of time!

Here is what you will need…

Candied Almonds

Salad

  • Spinach
  • Red Onion
  • Bacon
  • Feta
  • Strawberries

Dressing

  • Vegetable Oil
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Poppy Seeds

The measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. You can also save and print the entire recipe with instructions there.a photo of a large white serving bowl full of a fresh spinach salad topped with sliced strawberries, candied almonds, crumbled feta and sliced red onion.

I know that everyone has things they like and don’t like in salads, so here are some ideas for substitutions:

Greens: I love the peppery taste of arugula and doing half spinach and half arugula is a great option. You could also use green leaf or romaine.

Fruit: Feel free to use any berry that you want, fresh or dried. Mandarin oranges are also so yummy in it!

Nuts: If you don’t like almonds or have an allergy, go for candied pecans or walnuts.

Protein: Make this salad a main course by adding some sliced up grilled chicken or smoked chicken.

Dressing: Swap the white wine vinegar for balsamic vinegar for a little sweeter dressing. And if you don’t want to take the time to make homemade, then just grab your favorite vinaigrette at the store.

Others: Add some avocado slices or croutons for some extra crunch.

a photo of homemade poppy seed dressing being poured from a mason jar onto a strawberry feta spinach salad.

We usually eat this salad as a side dish with a protein as the main course. Pretty much any protein works great. You could also do a grain or bread on the side.

You could serve it alongside some garlic butter chicken, smoked meatloaf, or roasted pork tenderloin. A loaf of artisan bread or a batch of garlic herb cauliflower rice would compliment this salad perfectly.

a photo of a strawberry feta spinach salad with a silver spoon sitting on top full of homemade poppy seed dressing.

Can This Salad Be Made Ahead of Time?

It’s crazy easy to prep ahead, even days in advance (minus slicing the berries which can only be done one day ahead.) stored separately and then tossed together for whatever gathering you’re hosting or attending. And even better, you can make it year round! Almonds can be made 2-3 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container.

a photo of a large white serving bowl full of strawberry feta spinach salad with a silver serving spoon in it. There is a small bowl of candied almonds next to it and a mason jar of homemade poppy seed dressing.

How to Make Candied Almonds

I like to get a piece of parchment ready on the counter so that I can transfer the almonds there as soon as they are done.

Sprinkle the sugar in a nonstick pan over medium heat and start stirring it. It should quickly melt and start thickening up. Shake the pan so that the melted sugar evens out over the pan and then sprinkle the almonds over the sugar.

Stir constantly until the sugar sticks to the almonds and they are starting to get toasted. Then remove them to the parchment paper you prepped at the beginning. Let them cool completely. Store them in an airtight container. As mentioned above, the almonds can be made up to 2-3 weeks ahead of time.  They make a great addition to most salad recipes.

a photo of a small serving bowl full of golden candied sliced almonds.

What Feta Should I Buy?

Did you know it’s best to always buy brick feta and crumble it yourself?

1. Cheaper than already crumbled. You actually pay more any time something is prepared for you and crumbling feta takes one second.

2. It’s higher quality and flavor.

a photo of a large white serving bowl full of fresh spinach topped with sliced strawberries, candied almonds, crumbled feta and crunchy bacon pieces.

How to Choose Ripe Strawberries

When you’re at the grocery store, look for strawberries with a bright color and nice shine on the outside. The berries should also have a little give to them when you squeeze them gently. You don’t want them to be mushy though. Those are too ripe. They should be stored in the refrigerator and rinsed with cool water.

a photo of a large serving bowl of spinach salad topped with sliced strawberries, candied almonds, sliced red onions, and crumbled feta and bacon.

This strawberry feta spinach salad needs to be added your go-to salad recipes immediately! Whether it’s a potluck with the fam, a BBQ with friends, or a lunch with ladies, this salad is sure to be loved by everyone. I just took it to a family dinner about a week ago actually and everyone was asking for the recipe!

 

 More Salad Recipes You’ll Love:

a photo of a large white serving bowl full of a spinach salad topped with sliced strawberries, sliced red onions, candied slivered almonds, feta cheese, bacon crumbles and homeade poppy seed dressing.

Strawberry Feta Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 6

For the Candied Almonds:

  • 1 Cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar

For the Salad:

  • 1 Bag Spinach
  • 1/4 Red Onion thinly sliced
  • 6 slices Bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 Cup Feta crumbled
  • 1-2 Cups Strawberries sliced (any berry will do)

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds

For the Candied Almonds:

  • Spread parchment on the counter. Sprinkle the sugar in a nonstick pan over medium heat, stirring often.

  • After a minute it should appear to be thickening up. Shake the pan to even it out and sprinkle over almonds.

  • Stir continuously until the sugar has melted to the almonds and they are beginning to toast. Remove to parchment to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

For the Salad:

  • Assemble salad by tossing all ingredients together in a large bowl, only using as much dressing as you prefer and serve immediately or toss all but the dressing and allow guests to drizzle themselves.

Nutrition Facts

Strawberry Feta Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Amount Per Serving

Calories 506
Calories from Fat 297

% Daily Value*

Fat 33g51%

Saturated Fat 6g38%

Trans Fat 1g

Polyunsaturated Fat 7g

Monounsaturated Fat 17g

Cholesterol 26mg9%

Sodium 328mg14%

Potassium 677mg19%

Carbohydrates 42g14%

Fiber 7g29%

Sugar 31g34%

Protein 15g30%

Vitamin A 4544IU91%

Vitamin C 28mg34%

Calcium 269mg27%

Iron 4mg22%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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