Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

I’m out of my rut!! I went to the grocery store the other day and bought lots of ingredients to make all kinds of foods. I feel a little guilty though because almost nothing I bought was for a dinner recipe – practically everything was for a dessert. Except for today’s recipe which is salad!

My lovely friend Charlotte, who is so supportive and helpful with my blog, suggested I post my first-ever salad recipe. When I read her email, I thought, “ugh, salad.” I seriously dislike making salads and I prefer what I can buy at a restaurant. I don’t have all the diverse and exotic ingredients they have. And I’m just incapable of coating my salads in dressing like restaurants do. I always have a dressing puddle at the bottom of my plate. But if the purpose of my blog is to push myself to expand my cooking horizons, then I should get over my aversion to salad-making and just make a darn salad!

Today’s recipe I call, “Lisa’s Mom’s Strawberry Salad.” Now Lisa, is one of my oldest and best friends, and I’ve known her for literally over twenty years. Her mom’s name is Ellen, and Ellen calls this recipe “Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad,” and we’ll go with that since it sounds more elegant. This recipe is one of the three or four staples (along with veggie pizza and 7-layer dip) that I associate with parties at Lisa’s house, and it’s become one of the dishes I look forward to. And I’ll admit it, I’m nostalgic. I like this recipe because it reminds me of my friends and all the great parties we went to at Lisa’s house when I was growing up.

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But, the real reason this is special to me because it is the first recipe I ever asked someone for. Today I’m always asking people how they make something, what ingredients they used, and how they cooked it. But, I asked for this recipe when I was in high school and never cooked anything. Seriously, never. I do recall I made this once or twice at home, but somewhere in the 10+ years since high school I lost the recipe.

When Ellen sent me the recipe this time, my eyes bugged out a little when I saw mayonnaise in the dressing ingredients. Sixteen-year-old Mariel was unbothered by this because she didn’t know what ingredients were in anything, and she could eat whatever she wanted. But twenty-eight-year-old Mariel has a slower metabolism, and is afraid of mayonnaise. And I don’t really know why I’m afraid of mayonnaise. Mayonnaise, when made from scratch is largely oil and if a salad dressing called for lots of oil I wouldn’t bat an eye! So I decide I would make the dressing as Ellen instructed, and I’d also try to make my own oil based vinaigrette. And the winner was the mayo-based dressing! I felt like the oil overpowered the tangy raspberry sweetness I wanted in the dressing. Also, the mayo dressing wasn’t heavy at all. I liked the light sweetness that it added to the salad.

I had the perfect opportunity to make this salad the other day when Ryan was going out with friends to watch a soccer game. Solo-girls-night at home is about the only time a reddish-pink, vegetarian salad is going to be dinner in my house. When Ryan came home a few hours later he found me on the couch watching The Big Bang Theory with our baby-polar-bear-soft blanket pulled up to my nose.

Ryan: How was your salad?

Me: Great!

Ryan: You didn’t watch the game?

Me: No

Because solo-girls night means no sports on TV and a vegetarian dinner. Might sound terrible to you, but it sounds awesome to me.

Anyway, back to the recipe. At the core this salad can be made using just romaine, red onions, and strawberries. I decided to jazz it up a bit and I added goat cheese and crushed almonds. The sharp tang of raw onions, with the creamy cheese, the crunch of the almonds, and bright juiciness of the strawberries makes for a vibrant combination of flavors. I also think it makes the salad more filling. And tastier.

It was so tasty and filling, in fact, that I had this salad for breakfast the next day. For real, I ate salad for breakfast. I guess I don’t hate making salad anymore.


These amounts are if you’re making the salad for 4+ people


1/2  cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp poppy seeds

1/4 cup milk

2 tbsp raspberry vinegar


1 large head of Romaine lettuce (I used a bag of mixed greens)

1 quart strawberries

1 small red onion

1/3 cup almonds (or to taste)

goat cheese (to taste)


1. In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise and sugar thoroughly. Add the poppy seeds. Mix. Add the milk. Mix. Add the raspberry vinegar. Mix. Set aside.

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2. Wash the lettuce and roughly chop. Put in a large bowl.

3. Wash the strawberries. Cut into thin slices. Put them on top of the lettuce.

4. Slice the onion in thin strips. Put them on top of the lettuce.

5. You can crush the almonds in a food processor. Or you can put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin. The second way is fun, and you don’t dirty any dishes. Sprinkle crushed almonds on top of the lettuce.

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6. Cut the goat cheese into small dime-sized blobs. Place them around on the salad.

7. Serve!

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1 spoonMessy level – 1 spoon! All you need for this is a knife, cutting board, two bowls, and a whisk to mix the dressing. So very easy.


4 thoughts on “Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

  1. Pingback: Quinoa with tomatoes, olives, and feta | cooking is messy

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