After the giant pig-out that is the holidays, I usually spend most of January and February atoning for my sins with many, many salads.
That's not to say that I don't eat salad any other time of the year, but they feel extra-important at the beginning of the year when I need something fresh and healthy to make up for the fact that I spend most of December eating a steady diet of cheese and cookies.
It might sound odd, but my favourite part of a salad is actually the dressing. It's the unsung hero of the salad world - the crowning touch that ties together all of the different ingredients in your salad bowl and makes them into something magical.
Most of the time, a simple combination of balsamic and olive oil is good enough, but sometimes I crave something a little fancier.
Enter this creamy lemon poppyseed dressing. It's equal parts creamy, sweet and tangy, and works beautifully with both sweet and savoury salads. I've used it on colourful garden salads, simple coleslaws, and even fruit salad.
Meet Your New Favourite Salad Dressing
Choosing the right dressing can make or break your salad. Delicate flavours can be overwhelmed with boldly seasoned dressings, while basic vinaigrette can end up seeming a little boring on a simple bowl of greens.
I like to think this salad is the perfect compromise between these two options - it's subtle enough to let your salad ingredients shine, but still interesting enough to keep your garden salad interesting.
I sometimes make this dressing with Meyer lemons, because I love the subtle floral note they add, but plain old supermarket lemons work just fine if that's what you have on hand.
My Formula for the Perfect Big, Fat Salad
Ready to achieve true salad supremacy? It's really quite simple if you follow this formula:
1- Grab your biggest mixing bowl:
I learned this trick watching cooks in restaurant kitchens - an over-sized bowl makes it so much easier to toss everything together without making a giant mess!
2- Choose your dressing:
I always like to start planning on my salad by choosing a dressing. It's an easy way to determine what else goes into the bowl.
Creamy ranch or a simple oil-and-vinegar are the most versatile, or go with a really bold dressing that will be the star of the show, like Green Goddess or a spicy honey mustard.
3- Throw in two big handfuls of fresh greens for each person:
Pick whatever suits your fancy - spring greens, baby spinach, arugula, chopped romaine, shredded kale, or mix it up and blend a few of your favourites.
4- Top with lots of vegetables:
Your goal here is to mix up a few different textures and colours that complement your chosen dressing and greens.
Here are a few combinations to get you started:
- Crunchy Winter Salad: shaved fennel, thinly sliced radishes, and cucumber
- Southwest Salad: corn, cherry tomatoes and avocado
- Rainbow Bright Salad: shaved heirloom carrots, sweet peppers, and multicoloured cherry tomatoes
- Asian-Inspired Salad: shredded cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, and snow peas
Play around until you find your favourites!
5- Add some protein:
A proper Big Salad needs some protein - otherwise, it's just a plain old side salad.
This is a great way to use up leftover meat that's kicking around in the fridge. Got roast chicken, grilled pork chops or steak kicking around? Slice them up and throw them in!
Or if you want to go the meatless route, try a sliced hard-boiled egg, some shredded cheese, or a couple spoonfuls of cooked beans or chickpeas.
6- Finish with a little crunch:
This is entirely optional, but I find it makes a big difference. Toasted nuts, sunflower seeds, chow mein noodles, or even a savoury granola will add a textural element that takes your salad to the next level.
Salad Recipes to Pair with this Dressing
Ready to make a big fat salad, but not feeling inspired enough to freestyle your own formula just yet? No problem... here are a few salad recipes from some of my favourite bloggers to help get you started.
- Strawberry-Spinach Salad from Sweet Tea and Thyme
- Spinach Apple Salad from Erhardt Eats
- Brussels Sprout Salad from Fresh Coast Eats
- Peach Salad from Cravings of a Lunatic
- Apple-Fennel Salad from Simple Bites
- Radish Feta and Cucumber Salad from It's Not Complicated Recipes
This creamy dressing is equal parts tangy and sweet, along with the classic flavour combo of lemon and poppyseed. It's great on both sweet and savoury salads - try it on a classic green salad, or on a fruit salad.
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp poppy seeds
- Salt and pepper
- In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, sugar and poppy seeds until smooth. Toss with your favourite salad, or transfer to a mason jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
If you're not using the dressing right away, it will keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Make sure to give it a good shake before using, as the poppy seeds will settle to the bottom of the jar over time.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Category: Condiments
- Method: No Cook
- Cuisine: American