A family favorite, cashew cream cheese salad with poppy seed dressing is one of the first recipes I copied from my mother’s recipe card file. I took the recipe to college and made it occasionally when I was missing home. I even made it once for a work event and everyone raved about it. A former coworker recently told me that she still makes it for her holiday dinners.
I’m not sure where the recipe originated but I do remember when my mother first made it. It’s a gift that our family has … we may forget birthdays and anniversaries, but we can usually pinpoint exactly when we ate a particularly good bit of food. My mother likes to try at least one new salad recipe during the holidays and during the early eighties she tried this cashew salad. We loved it so much that the turkey and stuffing were ignored until the salad was gone. She’s been making the salad ever since.
The star of the salad is the poppy seed dressing. It’s sweet, tangy, and even a tad bit savory. I find it addictive and I’m tempted to eat it by the teaspoon. It adds just the right contrast to the crunchy cashews and creamy cream cheese. And, I prefer it made with iceberg lettuce, which isn’t very sexy, I know. However, the crisp nature of iceberg just fits perfectly with all of the other ingredients. It’s the perfect storm.
Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon finely minced onion
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
This dressing is best prepared using a stick blender but you could also use a regular blender too. Combine all of the ingredients and blend vigorously until homogenous. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Cream Cheese Cashew Salad
1 head iceberg lettuce chopped (or other preferred lettuce)
1/2 cup whole cashews (or more if desired)
1/2 cup cubed cream cheese
poppy seed dressing
The salad should only be prepared when ready to serve. Cubing the cream cheese can be tedious. I usually place the cream cheese in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm it up before cutting. Keep it cold until ready to add to the salad.
Toss the lettuce, cashews, and cream cheese with salad dressing until coated to your liking. I sometimes take creative license and also throw in a handful of dried cranberries for color and texture.
My belly is aching right now for the taste of it. It looks like I’ll be having salad for lunch today!
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