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Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

When next you prepare a buffet meal - especially if your menu includes essential salads - stand back from the serving table and make sure you've included enough red in your selection. It's a known fact that red stimulates the appetite and attracts attention - the language of color is communicated more quickly to the brain than words or shapes - and it's for this reason that red is so commonly used in fast food logos and food packaging. Add 'red magic' to meal times with plump, cherry tomatoes, diced red pepper, cranberries, pomegranate jewels, red apple slices, decadent cherries, and field-fresh strawberries for instant 'eat-me' appeal. Adapt the salad base below to suit your tastes and experiment with this lusciously light dressing in a variety of ways. Every day's a salad day when you have this gem in your recipe collection.

SALAD BASE (ADAPT TO TASTE) 1 bag baby leaves OR baby spinach 2 cups quartered strawberries 1 to 2 avocado, cubed 3 kiwis, cubed 1 large cucumber, halved and sliced 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced Toasted almonds/pecans LEMON POPPY DRESSING (SEE NOTES) 1/4 cup white wine vinegar OR rice vinegar 3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons finely grated onion* 2 teaspoons lemon zest 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons prepared mustard 2 teaspoons poppy seed 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 1/4 cup canola oil 1/4 cup olive oil 1: Arrange salad greens of your choice on a flat platter, making sure you layer ingredients, so that the person who is last to serve up doesn't only end up with leaves. 2: Whisk vinegar with sugar till dissolved then whisk in grated onion, zest, salt, mustard, poppy seed and mayonnaise. 3: Slowly add the oils and continue whisking till combined. Dressing can also be made with a blender. See notes. COOK'S NOTES: This lemon poppy seed dressing is superb too on coleslaw, chicken salad, or used as a marinade. The salad base is up to you but go for ingredients that compliment each other. Acidic tomatoes or peppers don't go well with strawberries, as example, but roasted sweet potato cubes do. You could use cider vinegar in place of other vinegars or even lemon juice or orange juice. Grate the onion on the smallest holes of your box grater so that it's very fine or make dressing in a blender and you won't have to grate it. Dressing may be made days in advance but whisk before using.

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