My all time favorite salad from Panera is the strawberry poppyseed salad they feature during the summer. Berries are not in season in the fall so naturally they are not currently serving it. However, my cravings for this salad never cease. Since you can buy all the ingredients for this salad at a local grocery store, I decided it was time to start making my own version.
Panera is known as St. Louis Bread Company (or Bread Co.) to St. Louisans. It was founded in Kirkwood, Missouri and you cannot go two miles in this city without coming across one! When I first moved to St. Louis I of course called it Panera. However I soon learned to refer to the mecca of quick and healthy soups and sandwiches as "Bread Co," because I would get death looks from my roommates and friends who were natives of St. Louis for using improper vernacular. =)
I decided to add another St. Louis original to the salad: provel cheese. I bet you are asking yourself, "What the heck is provel cheese?!" I know that is what I said when I first heard about this mysterious cheese. Provel cheese is a is a combination of Provolone, Cheddar, and Swiss cheeses invented here in the STL. It is made in mass quantities here and is generally put on EVERYTHING! Pizzas, sandwiches, omelettes, etc...I don't think Provel is available outside of St. Louis, so if you ever visit here, be sure to try it! Some people love it (me), some people hate it (my parents), so you will have to judge for yourself. =)
Copycat Strawberry Poppyseed Salad
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 chicken breast, chopped
1 handful strawberries, chopped
1 handful blueberries
Sprinkle of Provel cheese (and cheese will work)
Drizzle of Panera poppyseed salad dressing
(sorry for the inexact measurements, but I don't usually measure when I make salads. So just put the amounts you feel like on it!)
Place spinach in a bowl or plate. Add chicken, strawberries, blueberries, and cheese. Drizzle with dressing. Mix to combine. And voila it's ready to eat! Doesn't get much simpler than that =)
This salad doesn't taste exactly like the original but it is pretty darn close, and it definitely satisfies the craving. To be honest, I really don't eat a lot of salad. Okay, let's be real. I seldom eat salad. However, the sweetness of the dressing and fruit combined with the tanginess of the cheese gets me every time. It gives me hope that one day I will like more salads!