Strawberry Spinach Salad with Berry Dressing

Strawberry spinach salad with vegan berry dressing

Don't cook. Go RAW. Go FRESH.

The older I get the more I crave simple. The sweet, relaxed comfort of home cooking. An impromptu picnic on the patio with family-style classics like horseradish spiked potato salad and strawberry rhubarb crumble. Instead of growing worldly and sophisticated and dabbling with truffle oil, each new gray silver hair spins my taste hula hooping into simplicity faster than Lady Gaga can waggle. Well, maybe not that fast. She is pretty nimble. But you get my drift. I'm whipping up ten-minute rice stir-fries, not Coq au Vin. I’m blending up pomegranate smoothies, not roasting Duck a l'Orange.

And lucky me, the summer season is all about simplicity. Who needs complicated and fussy when the farmers’ markets are abundant with glorious, fresh ingredients? Vegetables in every color. Ripe and voluptuous fruits. And every one of them gluten-free. And dairy-free. That’s the beauty of it. No imitation here. No game of let’s pretend. This is nature’s bounty, pure and raw and beautiful. No deprivation. Zero. None.

When folks with celiac disease first learn they need to live gluten-free (for life!) a throat tightening panic strikes. In a sudden, blinding flash they begin to mentally catalog every favorite food they must now avoid like the plague. The list begins with sandwich bread for many, and often ends with pizza, bagels, spaghetti or cupcakes (by this point, imagined in all their lustrous glory through an unexpected blur of angry tears). Our wheat-based food culture is insidious, ubiquitous, and gluten saturated. Our nemesis- the grain protein gluten- is infused in or added to too many foods to count (soy sauce, really?).

This is why I gently suggest going naturally gluten-free. At least for starters.

Diving into the complexity of gluten-free baking (with multiple flours and starches), or spending hard earned cash on packaged gluten-free foods full of odd ingredients such as tapioca starch, quinoa flakes and xanthan gum, can pinch not only the budget, but the soul. Taste buds need time to adjust. Your palate was raised on wheat and dairy foods. And trust me- both are acquired tastes. I know this is true, because after years of living gluten-free and dairy-free, I can honestly report that I hold my breath walking past the bread shelves and the gourmet cheese displays at our favorite local market. Baked goods made with wheat flour exude an odd, sickly- sweet aroma that does not smell appetizing. And cheese? When you haven’t eaten dairy in years, it smells exactly like spit up- no offense to babies. And milk? Cow's milk smells like a creepy combo of cheese curds and animal hair.

I am sorry to tell you.

So if you are newly diagnosed, or an old pro celiac who's been tempted by the news of a Domino's gluten-free pizza (just say no!), step back and take a breath. Visit your local farmer’s market this weekend instead. Drink in the gorgeous, gluten-free abundance of the fledgling summer season. Go vegetal. Toss together cool and tangy salads. Grill zucchini, asparagus, and peppers in a rainbow of colors. Blend creamy smoothies with fresh strawberries and coconut milk. Take advantage of juicy, local fruit and make a quick and elegant salad that will lift your spirits and nourish your body. Grab someone you love and dine al fresco

You won’t miss the gluten. I promise.

Strawberry spinach salad with vegan berry dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Berry Dressing Recipe

Recipe posted May 2012 by Karina Allrich.

Using fresh summer strawberries in a vegan salad drizzled with berry and balsamic dressing transforms tender greens into a luxurious and romantic treat. And the best part? Easy as one-two-three.


For the Dressing:

1/2 cup fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, washed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon raw agave nectar
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

For the Salad:

4 cups baby salad greens, washed
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed, sliced
2 spring onions, washed, sliced
6 sprigs fresh mint, washed


Place the strawberries, raspberries, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and agave nectar into a blender container. Cover and blend on high until the berries are pureed. Season with a grind of fresh black pepper, to taste.

In a salad bowl, toss the baby salad greens with the spinach leaves. Add in the strawberries and sliced spring onions. Drizzle with the Berry Dressing. Toss lightly. Serve with a mint sprig.

Serves 4.

Recipe Source:

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For more on celiac disease and living gluten-free, see Karina's post Living Without Your Daily Bread.

Karina's recipe for Strawberry Spinach Salad with Berry Dressing originally appeared in Allergic Living magazine.

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