Salad bars and the airport quick-grab kiosks have done the Spinach and Strawberry Salad a real disservice, I think. Done well — done properly — it's easy to see why this salad is such a classic. The greens are crisp and tender, and they should be slicked with just enough dressing to be interesting without overwhelming. The strawberries give a juicy burst of sweetness, the cheese adds its luxurious creaminess, and the almonds bring it home with some much-needed crunch.
This is the kind of salad that is fancy enough for a Mother's Day brunch, but also easy to whip together on a weeknight. For either scenario, and all those in between, Spinach and Strawberry Salad will serve you well.
There's really only one thing that can ruin an otherwise good spinach salad: dry, undressed greens. If you pour the dressing over the top of your salad, you end up with gloppy, over-dressed greens sitting above pockets of dry greens that squeak against your teeth. (Shudder.) Woe be to you if you're the last person to get served.
Best to avoid this whole scenario by tossing the greens with the dressing before bringing it to the table. Save a few almonds, goat cheese crumbles, and your prettiest strawberries to scatter over top, and serve the extra dressing on the side in case anyone wants a little extra.
I really love this salad with a classic poppy seed dressing, which has a tangy-sweet flavor that brings everything together so nicely. Making it yourself is surprisingly easy — here's my favorite recipe — but certainly feel free to substitute a favorite store-bought brand.
My one twist on this salad is to use smoked almonds in place of regular almonds. With so much classic-ness going on with this salad, I like to throw in one unexpected thing to keep it from feeling stodgy!
Do you love spinach and strawberry salad? What's your favorite twist?