I love the combination of spinach salads with poppy seed dressing. You, too? Then you will love this pretty and delicious winter version.
Sweet, nutty roasted cauliflower, tart fresh cranberries, lush chunks of roasted red onions are tossed with fresh baby spinach and coated in a luscious sweet tart orange poppy seed dressing and finished with a sprinkling of chopped fresh tarragon and crunchy salty pumpkin seeds. Perfect flavors and colors together for the season!
Poor cauliflower. So pale. Rather bland. And always getting a bad rap! But it’s low in calories (about 25 per 1 cup), high in fiber and contains some of almost each vitamin and mineral that your body needs. Plus, roasting brings out it’s wonderful sweet, nutty flavor.
Cranberries are also low in calories and high in vitamins C, A & K. Roasting really tempers their tartness. And in this spinach salad recipe, they mingle with the naturally sweet orange poppy seed dressing, so no need to add sugar to enhance their flavor. They add such a pop of color to any recipe.
Does spinach get a bad rap? I don’t know. I enjoy it often in a host of salads, really. And it really holds up well to warm ingredients like roasted vegetables. Lots of vitamins and minerals, spinach is high in fiber, low in carbs; which makes it one of my favorite salad greens to enjoy!
I don’t often give much regard to the nutritional value of onions. To me, they’re just an easy way to add flavor to many recipes. But they are low in calories, and are a minimal source of vitamin C, calcium and iron. And soooooo sweet and delicious when roasted, they are nothing to cry about!
I love the colors of the roasted vegetables together! So sweet and tart, too. Perfect for a Christmas or Valentine side dish. You could really serve these right off the pan. But toss it with some healthy spinach and enjoy the easy orange poppy seed dressing. The dressing is made with fresh orange juice, honey, Dijon mustard, olive oil and sherry vinegar AND lots of crunchy poppy seeds. A perfect complement to these delicious roasted winter vegetables.
I love poppy seed dressing with spinach salads. But I particularly love this orange poppy dressing because it also goes great with the tart cranberries and sweet roasted onions.
All of these flavors play so well together and the colors are perfect on your holiday tables. I love this salad and wouldn’t change a thing. But here are some ways to change this salad to MAKE IT YOUR OWN:
- Not a fan of spinach? Any hearty greens will work. How about arugula or chard?
- Try adding green or purple cauliflower to make this salad even more colorful.
- And actually, other roasted vegetables would be good here, too. How about broccoli, carrots or RADISHES!
- My favorite herb is tarragon. But if your favorite herb is parsley, thyme or chives, use it!
- Any sweet onion would be great to use. You just won’t get that extra pop of color.
- Honestly, I could see this salad working with other types of dressing. But I really recommend poppy seed. Make a regular poppy seed dressing if that is more your thing. Or add lemon juice or lime juice instead of orange. Or ruby grapefruit juice! All will give this dressing a nice citrusy kick!
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 2 heads of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
- 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
- 12 ounces of fresh cranberries
- 6 generous cups of fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup of salted pumpkin seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon
- 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon of freshly grated orange zest
- 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon of orange blossom honey
- 1 Tablespoon of sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the cauliflower and onions on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Drizzle with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper to your liking.
- Gently toss the vegetables to coat.
- Roast for 15 minutes.
- Then toss in the cranberries and roast an additional 10-15 minutes or until the onions and cauliflower are tender.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with the tarragon and let them cool slightly.
- Place the olive oil, orange juice and zest, mustard, honey and vinegar in a mini food processor or blender.
- Blend until thoroughly combined.
- Stir in the poppy seeds.
- Gently toss the pan vegetables with the spinach, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve with the dressing.
All of my salads and dressings are just a starting place for your imagination. So feel free to add or swap ingredients and do what works for you!