By Kendra Murray

Fresh, green spinach marks the beginning of spring.

The abundance of winter farmers’ markets and farm stands has made it much, much easier to eat locally throughout the colder months. I do love being able to support my local farmers year-round; however, there comes a point where I am just sick of eating potatoes, parsnips, and beets. Sure, they are a great winter comfort food, and I love making hearty stews, Shepherd’s pie, and risottos, but by spring I’m ready for something fresh. My body begins craving leafy greens, and I’m happy to see a little more color at the farmers’ markets.

Spinach is one of my favorite veggies. I love its versatility: it is great whether sauteed, thrown into some scrambled eggs, blended in a smoothie, or eaten raw in a sandwich or a salad. After months of heavy, oven-baked food, a spinach salad is incredibly refreshing. The crisp, cool leaves not only taste delicious, but the bright green color is also delightfully invigorating. After a winter’s worth of somewhat somber looking root vegetables, the color of spinach seems to symbolize life. Trees and flowers will start blooming soon, and before we know it, bright red tomatoes will be gracing our dinner tables once again.

One of my favorite recipes to make in the springtime is a strawberry, spinach, and avocado salad with poppy seed dressing. I, unfortunately, can’t take credit for the recipe; I found it a few years back on GimmeSomeOven.com. However, I do substitute ingredients depending on what time of year I make it. I often add salad turnips or radishes, as those can usually be found in the spring. If it’s past strawberry season, I tend to use dried cranberries instead. If made in the summer, I’ll use fresh lettuce in place of the spinach, heirloom tomatoes, and leave out the fruit entirely. That’s the fun thing about salads; you typically can throw whatever is in the fridge, into a salad bowl, and it usually always a blend together nicely.

To really make the most of the salad, do not skimp on what you can find locally. You cannot compare a fresh strawberry right out of the field to something shipped from California. I typically head over to Spring Rain Farm in Taunton to pick my own, but I’ve also gotten some great fruit at Keith’s Farm in Acushnet, Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, and Moonlight Rose Farm in Swansea. Spinach can be found at most farm stands that are open in spring and I usually patronize Freedom Food Farm in Raynham and Appongansett Farm in Dartmouth, though there are many others offering great greens!

If you aren’t a farmstand shopper, most fruits and veggies can be found at myriad farmers’ markets. Despite climate change, I don’t think we’ll be seeing local avocados anytime soon. That’s okay, though; it’s hard to be local ALL the time. I also highly recommend using local cheese for this recipe. I’ve been using Great Hill Blue, which is made in Marion. It is seriously the most delicious blue cheese I’ve ever had. I usually pick up a wedge at Alderbrook Farm in Dartmouth, but you can also find it in many local grocery and specialty stores. Enjoy!

After a winter’s worth of somewhat somber looking root vegetables, the color of spinach seems to symbolize life.

Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of ground dry mustard or ¼ teaspoon prepared mustard
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a small bowl, stir together honey, vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard. Whisk in the olive oil and add poppy seeds.

Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing Salad Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ of a small red onion, thinly sliced

Toss salad ingredients together. Drizzle with dressing to taste. Toss again and serve immediately.

Kendra Murray is passionate about local and environmentally friendly living. She is looking forward to a fresh, new season full of garden planning, planting seeds, and eating locally!