Spinach Salad with Sweet Peas, Strawberries, and Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

You know those favorite recipes that you remember fondly but haven’t made in many moons?   One of those dishes that people asked you to write down the recipe for them?  One that was a hit at any pot luck at which it appeared?   A recipe that was pre-internet and pre-blog?   A recipe that you now cannot locate?

What a conundrum.


When The Lawyer’s Cookbook announced the July feature for Food ‘n Flix was Popeye, I knew exactly what salad I would make.   It would be the aforementioned fondly-remembered salad that contained strawberries, spinach, pecans and a lovely maple-balsamic dressing.    I spent one whole Sunday morning searching through all my Junior League cookbooks.  I knew it was in one of them.   It was a hardback one I was sure.   I went through them all twice to no avail.   (I have about twenty JL cookbooks.)  I even resorted to an internet search.   Nothing.

One more attempt at locating this recipe and I happened to stop on a vinegar stained page.   I had found it!   It was not as I remembered.   I had found my old much-loved recipe except it was a “Cranberry Cashew Green Salad.”  What?  No spinach or strawberries in sight.

I decided to obviously change up the recipe and use spinach in honor of Popeye.  Luckily, the salad did contain frozen peas (for Swee’pea) and olive oil (obviously for Popeye’s love).  And, I will reply “Yes” to the Commodore:  I am making a salad!

Eliot's Eats

Spinach Salad with Sweet Peas, Strawberries, and Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Inspired by Cranberry Cashew Green Salad from A Thyme To Remember (80th Anniversary Special Edition by the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance

4 c. baby spinach
3 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
3 green onions, chopped (including green tops)
1/2 c. frozen sweet peas, thawed
1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese
1/2 c. candied pecans
1/4 c. Maple-Balsamic vinaigrette (See recipe below.)

Toss the spinach, bacon, strawberries, green onions and peas in a large bowl.   Arrange blue cheese and candied pecans on top   Drizzle on dressing.   Present salad and toss before serving.

Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4  c. balsamic vinegar
1/8  c. pure maple syrup
1 T. minced shallots
3/4  c. olive oil
1/2 t. seasoned salt
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
1/8 t. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake until thoroughly blended.   Any leftover vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks.

This recipe makes two large entree salads or four side salads.Eliot's Eats

Did you notice that the recipe I finally found was not even in a JL cookbook?


As for the film, Popeye tells the tale of the town of Sweethaven, a down-on-its-luck seaside shanty town ruled by the mysteriously absent Commodore (and the brutish Bluto).  Popeye arrives and finds himself an adoptive father to a baby, falls in love with a tall disagreeable drink of water, is reunited with his ol’ pappy, and helps the town liberate itself.

POPEYE, from left: Robin Williams as Popeye, Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl, 1980. ©Paramount/courtesy

I enjoyed seeing the late Robin Williams again in his comedic glory (albeit with a George Hamilton spray tan).  I kept reminding myself it was a 1980 film.   The costumes and set designs were pleasing to the eye.  I guess I’m just not really a fan of live-action cartoons.

popeye can

I can say that the film made me remember a fond memory of my favorite uncle.  Mom used to serve us canned spinach and we detested it.  (And, rightfully so, I might add.)  Our Uncle Chuck taught us to eat it with, of all things, mayonnaise (and sometimes Miracle Whip) and a drizzle of vinegar.   Every time he visited, we would serve up a can with dollop upon dollop of mayo.   Fond memory of my favorite uncle but I don’t think my taste buds concur in remembering this as a culinary delight.

The film also made me fondly remember “Mork and Mindy,” which was at the height of popularity in 1980, the year Popeye was released.   (Did anyone else own a pair of rainbow-colored suspenders?)  Popeye marked Williams’ first starring feature role.


Please join Food ‘n Flix for the August feature, Hotel Transylvania 2, hosted by Coffee and Casseroles.

Besides using this delicious salad for FnF, I am also linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen‘s Souper Sunday.



Link up your favorite soup, salad or sammie.


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