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Great Aunt Jean’s Most Famous Holiday Ensalada


I can’t have the holidays without eating some of my Great Aunt Jean’s Brunch-time Spinach salad with strawberries and bananas, and Thanksgiving with the Sanders clan in Marian, Iowa was no exception. I came full force with this salad that instantly erases the guilt of those 5 pieces of pie you just swallowed in one bite.

But, hey, this salad is good any old time of year as long as you can find good bananas and fresh strawberries.


Strawberry Banana Spinach Salad

as modified by my poor memory, but still delicious, I promise

  • A bag or two of spinach leaves (depending on how many people are eating with ya)
  • 1/2 a red onion, diced
  • Olive Oil
  • A couple tablespoons of butter
  • Red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • A spoonful or two of poppy seeds
  • A spoonful or two of sesame seeds
  • A box o fresh strawberries
  • A just-ripened banana
  • A few squirts of lemon juice
  • 2 cups walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • Salt


To start, we candy some nuts. Fun! Grease a baking pan with some olive oil or butter and spread out ya nuts on the pan. Cover the nuts with a tbsp of butter, a tbsp of olive oil and about 1/4 a cup of brown sugar and sprinkle on some salt. Bake these in the oven at 250 to 300 degrees until the sugar is all caramelized and they are brown and toasty.

In a separate pan, dry roast the poppy seeds and sesame seeds at 250 to 300 degrees until slightly toasty. These will go into the salad dressing. To complete the salad dressing, just mix together oil and vinegar with a bit of lemon juice and add 1/2 of the toasted seeds. I spiced up my dressing this last time around with the addition of some ginger-ale soda pop. It was extra yummy.


Now, on to the rest of that salad. Dice up the 1/2 a red onion and toss it in a big bowl with the spinach. Cut the tops off of the strawberries and then slice them thin and mix into the salad.

Immediately before the salad is to be served, slice up your banana into thin slices and sprinkle the slices with lemon juice to reserve their color. If the food is going to sit out on the table a while buffet style and/or if you feel there will be leftovers to store, you may want to keep the bananas in a bowl to the side of the salad rather than mix them in because the moisture can spoil the spinach if left to its own devices.

Sprinkle the remaining toasted seeds on top of the salad and serve with the oil/vinegar dressing and the candied walnuts or pecans.

This salad is probably all wrong according to Aunt Jean’s recipe, but I think of her every time I eat it. It was her birthday a couple of days ago, so I wanted to honor her with this post. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUNT JEAN!

Some Other Stuff We Ate At Thanksgiving 2011:














Coming soon, XMAS FEAST 2011. At this rate, It’ll be 2020 before I make it to Easter.

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