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Lemon & Poppyseed Chopped Salad

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 I threw together this delicious salad at the weekend, using some fruit which I had left in the refrigerator, a bit of pasta and some leftover chicken and a few other odds and sodds.  Spring has me craving salad.  This was light and flavourful and yet hearty enough to make a meal.  The lemon and poppyseed dressing is a dressing that goes well on a lot of salads, but it especially went well on this.

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 I am not sure what it is about Lemon and Poppyseeds that makes them work together so well.   Poppyseeds have an intense, somewhat nutty and almost earthy flavour . . .  packing a lot into that itty bitty crunch.  Lemon with it's citrus notes just goes so well with all of that, which explains the popularity of lemon and poppyseed cakes and muffins etc.

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It especially went well with all of the elements of this delicious salad . . .  chopped strawberries, halved blueberries . . .  blanched chicken breast meat, pasta . . .  chopped peppers (for plenty of crunch) and celery too . . .  and then some toasted pecan nuts for additional crunch and savouryness.

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The saltiness from the feta cheese sprinkled over top.  It all worked together in perfect harmony, and even had Todd coming back for seconds.  And he is so not a salad, pasta type of guy.  He says my salads are interesting however.

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I, on the other hand, have never met a boring salad or a salad I did not like.  I am a salad lover from way back.  I hope you will all give this a go and fall in love with is like we have.   It's fruity without being sweet.  The dressing is tangy, delicious and a tad bit crunchy, with just the merest note of sweet honey.  In short, this was a winner all round! (My blueberries were really large and so I cut them in half.  If your berries are small there is no need to do that.)

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*Lemon & Poppyseed Chopped Salad*
Serves 6
A step in my journey towards healthier eating.  This is deliciously fruity and yet it isn't sweet.  Everything works together in harmony.
For the dressing:
125ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup)
3 TBS apple cider vinegar
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 TBS good clear honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBS poppy seeds

1 pound of pasta shapes, cook al dente, rinse and drain
(You will want a shape that holds the dressing)
2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked, chopped
1/2 punnet of strawberries, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 small punnet of blueberries (if large, cut in half) (about 1 cup)
2 trimmed stalks of celery, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, trimmed and chopped
a small handful of pecans, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
4 TBS crumbled feta cheese
a small handful of dried cranberries (optional)  

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Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.  Set aside to meld flavours.

Place all of the salad ingredients with the exception of the cheese.  Toss gently together.   Pour the dressing over all and toss gently again to combine.   Sprinkle the feta cheese over top and serve.  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Note - because of the fruit this isn't really a salad you can make too far ahead of time.

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This would be a great salad to take to school or work.  Just don't add the dressing until you go to eat it.  You wouldn't want the fruit to macerate in the dressing for too long.   I love it when healthy looks great and tastes even better!

Bon Appetit!

Marie Rayner
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