Strawberry Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

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(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.
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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.

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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
Vegan, gluten-free
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.

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13 Responses to Strawberry Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

  1. Foodie Stuntman June 10, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    Just looking at the ingredients, it looks like there’s a balance of flavors. Nice recipe!

  2. TheDad June 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Soy contains lecithin which is a very good emulsifier. Lecithin is also available as a food supplement in capsule form; you could open a couple and try adding the contents. I think they’re pretty cheap.

    Eggyolks are the best (they’re what keeps mayo emulsified), but I expect they’d ruin the taste you want here.

    The only other reasonable-sounding natural emulsifier I can think of is mustard. You’d have to try various amounts to see how much you need, and then decide whether the taste is a problem or an improvement. It won’t work as long as eggs, but it might be good enough. Seems like it might be worth a try to me.


    • Willow June 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      Great information! More lecithin is a good idea, and might just do the trick.

      I realize that eggs are the best emulsifier, and strongly consisidered just using mayonnaise as the base, but was hoping to keep the dish vegan if possible.

      And I hadn’t thought of mustard, and am not sure how the flavor would work… it may play well with the orange, or it might just muddy the flavor. Worth trying when I make this again, for sure! Actually, now that I think about it… a nice mustard based dressing sounds awfully nice! :D

  3. June 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    oh that looks so delicious! i’m so glad it’s finally strawberry season! thanks for sharing! gorgeous photos!

    • Willow June 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      Thanks! And I agree, SO happy about fresh strawberries! :)

  4. Courtney J June 11, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    I adore your photos! Such talent you have!!! :)

    This salad looks truly wonderful – celebrating so many great summer flavours. I cannot wait to go strawberry picking!
    Glad to hear your month of salads is going well.

    • Willow June 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      Thanks Courtney! Strawberry picking was so much fun, you should go. :)

  5. Elly McCausland June 11, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    I’m very intrigued by using strawberries in salads – have seen a few recipes but never had a go myself. Great photos and a lovely post!

    • Willow June 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

      Topping salad with fruit is one of my favorite things – I highly recommend you try strawberries!

  6. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes June 12, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    I just picked my 15 pounds of berries yesterday – nothing beats a sun soaked berry straight from the vine. I love how you used arugula and berries together, 2 of my favorite things!

    Good question on the dressing…can you cut back a little on the soy milk and maybe add some type of thickener like agar or arrowroot or would that be too weird?

    • Willow June 12, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      Agar might work, but I don’t have much experience with it… I thought of thickeners like arrowroot and starches, but they all need heat to thicken. My dad suggested adding more lecithin (the part of soy that makes it thicken), which is a good idea as well… definitely have some things to play around with! :D

  7. Jen @JuanitasCocina June 13, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    HOW did I miss this post? I need to make this a daily stop so I quit missing all of these delicious photos and recipes!

    I’m on the hunt for new dressings. You are now my best friend.

    • Willow June 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      Haha – well, keep your eyes peeled, because I’ve got a few more dressings on the way! :)

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