A show-stopping simple Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad with fruity sweet strawberries, creamy avocado, crunchy candied almonds, and tangy feta cheese. The poppy seed dressing is the absolute best and takes only minutes to whip together.
1/3cup (72g)full-fat mayonnaise (I recommend Best Foods/Hellmans)
2tablespoons EACH:whole milk, heavy cream, white granulated sugar
1tablespoonapple cider vinegar
pinch of salt and pepper
8cups (140g; 5 oz)baby spinach or mixed greens
2cups (275g)strawberries,stems removed and sliced
1ripe large avocadodiced (or 2 small avocados)
1/3cup (45g)crumbled feta cheese
CANDIED ALMONDS: Place the sliced almonds and sugar in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir constantly. The sugar will begin to melt, become a sticky liquid, and then stick to the almonds. This takes about 3-4 minutes; watch carefully and stir constantly to avoid burning the nuts. As soon as the sugar starts turning liquid-y, remove the skillet from the heat and continue to stir until almonds are well coated. Spread the candied almonds onto a sheet of parchment paper and let cool. Once hardened, break apart and set aside.
DRESSING: Combine all of the ingredients, except the poppy seeds, in a small blender jar and process until combined. Taste and adjust any flavors to personal preference. (If you'd like a sweeter dressing, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons white sugar.) Stir in the poppy seeds. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve (Dressing stays good for 1 week stored this way).
SALAD ASSEMBLY: Add the mixed greens to a large platter or bowl. Remove the stems of the strawberries and slice thinly. Peel the avocado, remove the pit, and then chop or thinly slice. Add the strawberries and avocado to the lettuce, followed by the feta cheese and candied almonds to personal preference; we add about 1/3 cup. (See Note 1) Drizzle on the dressing (to personal preference, you may not use all the dressing -- See Note 2) and toss the salad. Enjoy immediately.
STORAGE: This salad doesn't sit well with the dressing, so only dress what will be enjoyed the same day. Store any leftover salad and dressing separately. Almonds and cheese should also be stored separately. Avocado will brown if cut in advance.
Note 1: This is more almonds than you'll need for the salad, but sugaring the almonds works best with this volume. Store leftover almonds in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months or in the pantry for 2-3 weeks. Use leftover almonds as a snack, or as a topping for yogurt bowls, acai bowls, or salad.Note 2: The dressing is likely more than you will need for the salad. Store leftovers in the fridge for 4-5 days and use for other salads or for a fruit/veggie dip.