I’ve always loved poppy seed dressing, but once I went sugar free, it had to be a very occasional treat. It takes a lot of sugar to balance the onion, and I tried making sugar-free poppy seed dressing, but I found that substituting Splenda ruined the dressing’s ability to cling to the greens. (Back when I ate Splenda.)
Then a few weeks ago, I saw a photo of strawberry poppy seed dressing and it hit me: use the sweetness of strawberries, and you won’t need sugar at all!
This dressing is so easy to make, it’s no trouble for everyday. And it’s so pretty, it can be a star player on a brunch or luncheon table. Especially perfect for a bridal shower, Mother’s Day — or any spring or summer party, really.
I left the onions out of the dressing; with onions in the salad, and with the strawberries bringing the flavor and body to the dressing, they’re not so needed in the dressing.
And yes, this salad is Paleo and Whole30 compliant! Let’s just talk about all the healthiness packed into the salad: spinach, strawberries, olive oil, oranges, pecans – super foods, all! If I weren’t avoiding dairy, I would totally throw some feta cheese in there, too. (Or goat cheese, if you like. Which I don’t.)
Sugar-free poppy seed dressing and spinach salad
makes enough for 4 – 6 salads
1/2 c. chopped strawberries
2 T. light olive oil, or other light-flavored oil
1 T. mayo (homemade, if ya got it)
1 to 2 T. white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 t. poppy seeds
Strawberries may be fresh or frozen. If using frozen, chop and measure while still partially frozen, but allow to thaw before blending.
Combine all ingredients except for poppy seeds in a blender container, using only 1 T. of vinegar to start with. Blend till smooth. Taste, and add 1 t. of vinegar at a time until it’s as tangy as you want it. (Remember, being spread out on the spinach will make it a bit milder.)
Pour into a jar for storage, then add poppy seeds and stir.
Chill till ready to use. Can be served immediately, but tastes best the next day.
for four salads:
6 – 8 oz. baby spinach
1/4 small red onion
2 navel oranges or cara cara oranges
chopped pecans, to taste
Tear the spinach into bite-size pieces, and cut the onion into thin, short slices.
Cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges, then slice the peel and pith off of them. (To see what I mean, watch 0:20 – 1:30 of this video: how to peel an orange.) Then tear the sections apart, and cut into pieces that will fit neatly on a fork.
Aren’t they pretty in the sunlight?
Assemble the salads ahead of time, or let guests build their own. If making ahead of time, the spinach and onions may be stored together in the same bowl. The acid from the oranges and the salt in the dressing would begin to break the spinach down, so don’t store them together. Pecans might get soggy, so keep them separate as well.
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