(Strawberry Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing - vegan, gluten-free - recipe in post)
This month has been quite a treat. I realize we're only just over a week in, but can't we just stop while we're ahead? I've been loving eating a salad every day as part of my salad-a-day challenge, and on top of that I have the pleasure of using up an entire fridge full of strawberries from my berry picking bounty a few days ago.
In very un-Michigan fashion, the days have been steadily beautiful. Spring warmth has yet to tip into summer swelter, which means pleasant trips to the Farmer's Market and lots of fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients aplenty.
Arugula might technically be a weed, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be celebrated. Tender and mild like spinach, it has the perfect balance of sweet and peppery that can spruce up any mix of greens. And because it's so easy to grow, it's another quick local find. Topped with fresh, hand-picked berries and a handful of nuts and I am one happy girl.
This dressing was a bit of an experiment. I liked the results, overall, but found that it wasn't quite creamy enough nor orangey enough for my taste. While keeping it vegan, that's a tough nut to crack... because more creamy means less citrusy, and more citrusy means less creamy. Let me know if you have any suggestions for solving that one. In the meantime, I'll leave you with what I came up with and you can feel free to play around and make adjustments as you like. I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!
Strawberry Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
For the dressing:
1/2 cup canola, saflower, or other neutral oil
1/4 cup regular soy milk*
2 tsp. white vinegar, or lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 TBSP agave or other liquid sweetener
1 TBSP orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2-1 TBSP poppy seeds
For the salad:
1 heart of romaine, washed and chopped
1 bunch arugula, washed
Fresh strawberries, or other fruit
Pecans, walnuts, almonds, or other nuts or seeds (optional)
*Note that you MUST use soy milk to achieve creaminess. I've tested with rice milk, to no avail, and suspect almond milk would be the same. Something about the composition of soy allows the milk and oil to form a stabilized emulsion, like mayonnaise, as opposed to a temporary emulsion like a vinaigrette.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the oil and soy milk. Blend for 10-15 seconds, until smooth and thickened. Add the vinegar and salt, and blend to combine. Congratulations, you've just made a very basic vegan mayonnaise!
Add the sweetener, zest, and orange juice, and blend. Mourn the loss of rich creamy consistency, welcome the bright orange flavor, move on. Add the poppy seeds, and pulse to combine.
Toss the washed and dried salad greens, and plate. Top with fresh strawberries, nuts, and any other add-ons. Serve.