When I was growing up, my family would spend a week every summer on Martha’s Vineyard. One night we always went out for a “fancy” dinner at this restaurant called the Ocean View, which actually didn’t have a view of the ocean, but let’s not split hairs.
My mom would order a lobster and my dad would get a steak, and they would both have glasses of wine (my parents rarely drink). After the waiter took our order, we would head straight to my favorite part—the enormous and glittering salad bar positioned next to an equally enormous and glittering fish tank.
I know, I know, a little kid super excited about a salad bar? But this one was exceptional. At one end there was a huge basket of piping hot rolls and little pats of butter. The other end had croutons, chopped bacon, packages of oyster crackers—every kind of topping imaginable. I would fill plate after plate and drizzle everything with their creamy poppy seed dressing.
I was thinking about that dressing the other day. I had a craving for it, but I didn’t want anything too heavy, rich, or gloopy. For some reason I have an absurdly large container of poppy seeds (I think I bought it when I was developing a recipe for bagel chips for the Russ & Daughters cookbook? I honestly have no idea, but there it is, taking up way too much space in my cabinet.). I got to work experimenting, and after a couple of tries, landed on this version.
It’s bright and lemony, slightly sweet from the maple syrup, and just the right amount of creamy. I threw together a spinach salad with strawberries, avocado, and toasted almonds, which was so good I’ve now had it three times in the past four days, but you could use this dressing on whatever kind of salad you prefer. It will keep for a few days in the fridge.
Spinach Salad with Lemon Maple Poppy Seed Dressing
Makes 2 large or 4 side servings
For the salad:
1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
4-5 large strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
For the dressing:
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the salad, combine all the ingredients in a large serving bowl. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and serve.