what my mama taught me {and strawberry feta salad with the perfect poppy seed dressing}

This is my favorite version of the classic. It's crazy good and the dressing is not only made with whole ingredients but it's a cinch!  Psst! Surprise! More crazy good recipes to make mom at the end of the post. ;) 

This is my favorite version of the classic. It's crazy good and the dressing is not only made with whole ingredients but it's a cinch!  Psst! Surprise! More crazy good recipes to make mom at the end of the post. ;) 

"Did know your first curse word was damn it?” My mom told me the other day. We were talking about babies and talking and suddenly something in her memory was jogged loose. She went on,

“You were about 3 or 4 years old and you said it when you dropped something. I was so shocked that I asked you where did you learn that word? and you looked up at me innocently and said, “You.” 

 “I have absolutely no memory of that!” I laughed, “Are you sure?! That seems a little young to be cursing, I mean wasn’t I the perfect child?"

My dad chimed in, “Pretty much. You were so good that you spoiled us into thinking we were actually good parents.” He laughed at his own joke. 

“You know dad I don’t think I have EVER heard you say a curse word, like EVER.” 

“Really?” he said smugly, like he knew it. My dad just doesn’t curse. It’s annoying. 

“Yeah I pretty much learned all curse words from mom I guess.” I side-eyed my mom to see if she was paying attention. My mom gasped in protest and shook her head, “That is NOT TRUE.” She laughed and playfully hit me. 

“I’m pretty much convinced my kids will learn their first curse words from me too mom, don’t worry.” I winked.

Mom, you taught me so much more than just my first curse word. Like how to shoot m&m’s out of my nose, how to stick up for myself, how to study hard and be smart. You taught me girls can do anything and be anything they set out to be and that dark chocolate is better than milk. You taught me that to be kind is not to be weak, don't ever be afraid to speak your mind and to not be stupid when it comes to boys. You taught me that saying no doesn’t require an explanation, drinking root beer gives you the best burps and that nothing beats a rocky road ice cream cone on a hot or cold day.

You are my best friend, the smartest, funniest person I know and my hero. I love you more than I could ever really say. 

ps. Thank you for teaching me, “fruit totally belongs in a salad." This one’s for you.

 

strawberry feta salad with the perfect poppy seed dressing 

dressing yields roughly 1 ½ cups 

This salad was a staple growing up. (Thanks mom.) This is my version of the classic and I think if you made it, it would make your mom real happy. 

note: Don't stress too much about measurements here. Just have fun with it. I give super rough estimates on salad ingredient quantities for a reason - make it how you want to make it!  I've always been overly generous on adding nuts and cheese to salads - aren't those the best parts? The dressing makes enough for a crowd. ps. if you don't want to make the candied nuts from scratch, Trader Joe's candied pecans work great. 

for the salad:

3 pints fresh strawberries, washed and sliced 

8ish cups / 1800g fresh baby spinach, loosely chopped 

1 ½ cups / 225g sheep's milk feta, or any good feta cheese you can find

 

In a large bowl, toss the spinach in the dressing to coat each leaf before adding anything else. Then add your strawberries, feta cheese and nuts and gently toss again. Top with more sesame + poppy seeds, more nuts, a few more strawberries and another drizzle of the dressing. This salad is best served immediately after it's assembled. 

 

for the poppy seed dressing: 

½ cup / 142g greek yogurt, full fat, unsweetened 

⅓ cup / 80ml apple cider vinegar 

¼ cup / 56g sugar 

⅓ cup / 80ml sunflower oil 

1 tablespoon shallot, chopped finely 

½ teaspoon kosher salt 

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling 

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling (add another table spoon of poppy seeds if you can't find black sesame seeds), 

olive oil

 

Cook chopped shallot in 1 tablespoon or so of olive oil until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool and drain shallots from olive oil. 

Whisk together all ingredients except the sunflower oil in a medium sized jar until combined. 

In a steady stream, slowly add sunflower oil to mixture, whisking constantly until combined. If mixture is too thick, add a splash or two of sunflower oil. Remember the dressing will thicken up as it's refrigerated. 

This dressing keeps well for about a week to 10 days sealed tight in the fridge. 

 

for the candied nuts: 

1 ½ cup / 165g whole raw pecans 

½ cup / 112g sugar 

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 pinches of salt (about ½ teaspoon)

Over medium heat in a large saucepan, melt the sugar + salt with the olive oil until bubbly and light brown in color. About 3-5 minutes. Don't leave the pan. Try to let the sugar be and do it's thing. If you need to stir it a bit, you can, but don't stir it a ton. As SOON as the sugar turns brown, remove the pan from the heat and add your whole nuts. 

Toss nuts around in the hot sugar mixture until nuts are coated. Dump on a cool surface like a cutting board or plate. Let cool for about 20 minutes. 

When nuts are cooled, place in a large plastic bag and bash with a meat tenderizer or a large heavy spoon or small pot to crush the nuts. (Or use a mortar and pestle.) Sprinkle the nuts on the salad just before serving so they don't get soggy. Nuts will keep for up to 3 days, sealed. 

why is this good for me? 

poppy seeds - contain fatty acids that are really good for our hearts. They're also full of fiber and iron. Did you know that poppy seeds have also been used as a remedy for anxiety and diarrhea? Maybe even at the same time? :D 

sesame seeds - are a good source of vitamin e. Vitamin e is super good for our skin, heart and nervous system. They're also full of calcium.  

 

psst! Looking for Mother's Day brunch ideas?

Here are some crazy good (and easy) recipes you can make or ask your hubs to make for you ;) 

The perfect waffle (ps. you make this guy the night before, and have the perfect waffle batter by morning.) 

Pick a loaf any loaf: Lemon yogurt loaf with tangy lemon drizzle, Brown sugar banana bread with chocolate chips, Black sesame seed carrot loaf from SQIRL (an awesome bakery in LA) 

Eggs? Messy eggs is a breakfast my dad made up and it's by far one of my favorite breakfasts. (and gluten free)

Muffin's man! Dark chocolate zucchini muffins, My mom's lemon raspberry muffins, Wholesome honey persimmon muffins (replace the persimmons with apricot or spring berry to keep them in season) 

Need something gluten free? Lemony seeded banana bread is insanely good. Cinnamon date smoothie is like a shake for breakfast. My lil' breakfast ebook is free, and holds some treasured (gluten free) recipes you can make for mom (like protein pancakes and a dark chocolate smoothie, see pics above). Treat yourself and Download it if you haven't already?! :D 

Want something mom (or you) can eat all week long? One bowl breakfast cookies or sweet + salty granola bars are a make on Sunday eat all week kind of breakfast treat. Plus they're amazing, easy and packed with nutritional goodies. (all are gluten free too!)

Okay I love you bye!! xoxo