Surprise! The dressing for this salad is made with seasonal spring rhubarb. Now admit it, if the title of this recipe was Spinach Salad with Rhubarb Dressing you wouldn’t have given it a second look unless of course you are a rhubarb lover like I am. I grew up eating raw rhubarb snapped fresh from the plant even though it made me shudder a little with each bite because of the tartness. I wouldn’t do that now but I love using rhubarb as many ways as I can. This dressing in a favorite of mine because I like the sweet/savory combination of flavors. With it you can transform an ordinary spinach/strawberry salad into a thing of spring beauty.
For the salad:
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
- 1/2 cup sliced white button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
For the dressing:
- 1 cup diced rhubarb (about 6 average size stalks)
- 1/2 cup diced strawberries
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/8 tsp salt or to taste
- 2/3 cup neutral flavor oil
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Divide the salad ingredients evenly between 4 bowls. Set aside.
- Place the first 9 ingredients of the dressing into a saucepan. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes or until the fruit is soft and tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Place in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the oil and mustard and blend 5-10 seconds more until well mixed and creamy.
- Serve warm over the spinach salad.
Makes 4 single serving salads. The dressing makes 2 cups so there will be plenty left over for other uses.
Store leftover dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.