A fresh and healthy salad with lots of fruit, pecans, and a poppy seed dressing. This is a delicious gluten free lunch or dinner option!
One of my favorite restaurants is Panera. It used to be a much bigger favorite of mine, back in the day when I was eating wheat, eggs, and dairy, because of the bread. And the bagels, and the cheesy soups and sandwiches, and did I mention the BREAD?!? So good. (Not a sponsored post, I just was a really huge Panera fan in my earlier years). :)
In fact, there was a year where I was driving to Cleveland every other week for a lesson from the Associate Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, and there was a really nice toll road service plaza that had a Panera. I so looked forward to stopping at that Panera on my way home. Yes, I was driving 3.5 hours to take a lesson that lasted about 90 minutes, and then turning around and driving the 3.5 hours to go home. The things you do when you’re young!
Anyway, there are still a few things that I can eat from Panera even though I now have food sensitivities to work around. I like the classic salad with chicken, the black bean soup, and my favorite: the strawberry, poppy seed, and chicken salad. In the drink department, the frozen lemonade is also yummy, and I want to try the B-Green Smoothie the next time I go there.
What really makes my favorite salad so special is the poppy seed dressing. I love it – it’s sweet, and it goes really well with crisp lettuce and fresh fruit. I decided I needed to make my own version of this salad at home. I made it for lunch without the chicken, but you could add chicken or turkey if you want.
It was SO easy to make this dressing. I just dumped the ingredients in a glass jar and shook it up. We kept it in the fridge for about three days, and it held up just fine.
I used blackberries, but the original Panera salad uses blueberries…any berries will work just fine and be delicious.
- 2 romaine hearts, chopped
- 2 cups blackberries
- 2 cups pineapple, diced
- 2 cups mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
- 2 cups strawberries, chopped
- 1½ cups pecan halves
- For the dressing:
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ⅛ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon minced onion
- 1 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- Make the dressing: Put all the ingredients in a glass jar with a lid. Close tightly and shake the jar until combined.
- Assemble the salads: Put a bed of romaine on each plate. Place the blackberries, pineapple, oranges, strawberries, and pecans in a neat row on top of the lettuce.
- Drizzle each salad with the poppy seed dressing.
- Serve immediately.
Dressing adapted from here.
Have you ever made a favorite Panera menu item at home?