recipe: late summer salad



First, can we all have a nice hearty chuckle at my pitiful attempt at blogger food photography? One of these days I'm going to take a good food photo. It's going to happen.

Anyway... one of my favorite eat-out foods this summer was the strawberry poppyseed salad at Panera. I ordered mine without chicken or dressing and then added shredded coconut when I got it home. SO good! This afternoon I was craving the salad something awful, but to my utter horror I got this reply when I placed my order: "we're sorry, that salad has been discontinued for the season." Noooooooooooo!!! I reluctantly ordered an iced tea and sulked for a good ten minutes before I realized I could easily whip this up at home.

I used baby spinach, fresh strawberries and blueberries, a rinsed can of mandarin oranges and heaps of shredded coconut. The salad usually came with candied pecans too, but I made this for my whole family and my brother is allergic to nuts, so I left them out this time. Personally I love having that extra crunch so I'll probably be adding some when I go back for leftovers :)



I usually like kind of plain food, so everyone in my family thought it was just Kate being Kate when I said I was serving this without dressing. But I begged them to try it as-is and they all agreed it didn't need anything else. The juices from the fruits add just enough liquid and the coconut gives each bite just the right amount of flavor. If you try it, I'd recommend just giving it a whirl without dressing first -- you can always add it later. I think something like sesame ginger might be interesting though!

It's kind of a pet peeve with me (at least in my own family) that nobody ever wants to try things the way they come. They always have to be adding heaps of salt or cheese or dressing or butter when some foods have absolutely amazing natural flavors that just get buried under all that extra goop. I don't eat everything totally plain (I'll be the first to admit I can be heavy-handed when it comes to garlic!) but I think it's nice to try foods as-is before adding anything extra. You might be surprised at how good something tastes without any assistance from the condiment aisle! ;)