What makes this recipe really special is the way that the tangy dressing pairs beautifully with a crunchy, sweet, yet tart salad. This Poppy Seed Dressing over a Citrus and Cranberry Salad can’t be beat with so many different textures and such killer flavor.
Refreshing mandarin oranges and pineapple, with fresh spinach and romaine, crunchy sliced almonds, tart cranberries, combined together makes for a perfectly balanced and delicious meal after a busy day running errands or to take to work for lunch the next day.
THE MANY WAYS TO ENJOY A SALAD
One of the things I love most about a good salad is that they make for a perfect side dish, fresh lunch, or light dinner. There are just so many options and ways to enjoy it. But one of the best parts has to be just how insanely simple it is to make.
In fact a delicious salad was my perfect excuse this week for not having to stand in the kitchen longer than I needed to and heat up the whole house, because, man was it HOT this week.
But not only is this salad perfect for enjoying all the summer time vibes but it is one of my favorite secret weapons to pull out in the winter to lighten up and freshen our menu, as most of the items you need are right there in your pantry year-round! And EVERYONE can use a little more summer lovin’ to brighten those cold, dreary months.
Poppy Seed Dressing Perfection
Or have you ever purchased a pre-packaged salad kit just for the yummy dressing? No longer! Make that dressing better and more budget friendly right at home. One of my favorite things to make when I feel like I want to go the extra mile is a homemade dressing. Mhhhmmm … there is just something about it that can’t be beat.
DISSOLVE THE SUGAR
A key step to a truly smooth, almost velvety dressing is to take the extra step and be sure your sugar has completely dissolved. The easiest way to do this is by first adding your vinegar and sugar in a smaller bowl. Stir well, allow it to sit for a moment and then stir again making sure that all of your sugar has completely dissolved before adding your vinegar mixture to the rest of the recipe. Or you can skip the sugar all together and substitute it for your favorite local honey.
EMULSIFY YOUR FATS AND LIQUIDS
Have you ever pulled out a favorite dressing and you have to make sure you shake it really well before using it as everything has separated into layers while it sat in the fridge?
When ingredients in foods don’t play nicely together, like a fat and water, or in the case of this dressing, oil and vinegar, the two ingredients do not mix together naturally. So, it is our job to help them along their way.
We do this by adding an emulsifier ingredient like mustard, butter, cheese, honey or tomato paste and then combine the two more stubborn ingredients and our emulsifier slowly little by little with some vigorous whisking to get a more even dispersion. This is more simply called, emulsifying.
LET’S GET EMULSIFYING
You can definitely choose to hand whisk the dressing together by hand, and get a mini workout it at the same time, that’s the way I went this time. Or you can take the much easier route and use your blender to help make sure everything is nice and emulsified.
The most important thing though is to make sure you are adding the oil in slowly because too much oil at once won’t allow the salad dressing to emulsify correctly. And emulsifying the oil is what makes this dressing so incredibly creamy. If you want to learn more about this process and why it is so important, a FANTASTIC article that will help you learn everything you need to know to achieve the perfect oil or fat based dressing is right HERE.
ELEVATE THAT DRESSING, TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
If you are looking to elevate this already delicious dressing one thing we definitely suggest is adding one teaspoon of grated shallot before emulsifying everything together. The shallot helps to balance out the Poppy Seed Dressing and add a more complex flavor profile. Trust us, it’s totally worth it.
More than over Citrus and Cranberry Salad
Not that the Citrus and Cranberry Salad isn’t a beautiful medium for your new dressing, but we assure you that you are going to fall in love with this recipe so much that it will have you seeking out every excuse to pull it out of the fridge.
Have no fear. This easy Poppy Seed Dressing is sweet, slightly tangy and makes for the perfect complement to so many things. Here are a few of our personal suggestions but don’t be afraid to get adventurous. And if you find a delicious pairing be sure to share the love and let us in on it!
Use in a Broccoli Salad, as the dressing in your next Cole Slaw, over a Grilled Chicken Salad, tossed with a Spinach or Kale Salad, paired with a bright Fruit or Pasta Salad, or drizzled over a Quinoa Salad.
Pro Chef – Mom Hack
Let’s talk storage containers … because I know that once you try this yummy salad and dressing combo you are going to want this dressing available in your fridge at all times. And if you are willing to eat more salads and veggies can it really be a bad thing?? Of course not! So, indulge yourself.
Here are two excellent dressing containers we definitely suggest checking out if you are in the market.
- OXO 1105781 Good Grips Salad Dressing Shaker
- Whiskware Salad Dressing Shaker with BlenderBall Wire Whisk
Homemade dressing will last in the fridge in a sealed container like these shakers bottles for up to 10 days. When you are ready to enjoy, you will want to give the dressing a good shake before each use.
Change it Up
One of the great advantages of being the chef means you get to call the shots! There are many ways you can make this recipe your own. Let us share with you a few suggestions to get you started down the path of substitutions.
Love the flavor of olive oil? Swap it for the vegetable oil in the recipe for an even more earthy flavor. Go for the real thing, skip the onion powder and use grated onion. Yes, I am literally talking about pulling out that zester or cheese grater and getting to work.
You can always substitute the mustard powder for yellow mustard or Dijon mustard. And when it comes to vinegar you have so many options … all offering a slightly different flavor profile to your dressing, so don’t be afraid to give apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar a try!
SERVE IT UP
Pair this delicious salad with these easy yet mind blowing, creamy Chicken Crescent Roll-Ups, like we did and get ready for some good eatin’. Mhhhmm … dinner is ready! Find that recipe here.
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- pinch of garlic powder
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 2 heads romaine lettuce
- 1 bag baby spinach
- 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
- 1 cup pineapple tidbits
- 1 can mandarin oranges
- 1 cup shredded Swiss Cheese
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- Cut romaine lettuce into bite size pieces and add to a medium mixing bowl.
- Add spinach, cranberries, strained pineaple and mandarin oranges, Swiss cheese and almonds.
- Toss in bowl till mixed.
- In new medium mixing bowl add sugar and vinegar. Stir till sugar is completely dissovled.
- Add mustard and garlic powder to your mixture.
- Slowly add in oil, whisking or beating mixture vigorously as you go. The slower you combine the better your emulsion will be and the creamier your dressing.
- Once entirely combined add poppy seeds and whisk into mixture.
- Pour over salad just before serving.
- Store remaining dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
- When making your dressing be sure to dissolve the sugar entirely with the vinegar prior to adding all the other ingredients. This will help acheieve a velvety dressing you are sure to love.
- You will want to make sure you are emulsifyng the oil and other ingredients to get the creamiest dressing possible. You can read more above on how to accomplish this as well as why we find it totally worth the effort!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 17gProtein: 4g