Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing

This Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing will become your new favorite summer salad.

Juicy strawberries, crunchy cucumber, toasty pecans, fresh dill and peppery arugula, all coated in a creamy dressing, are all it takes for a refreshing side dish or light entrée.

Plus, it’s naturally low carb, dairy-free, vegan, Paleo and Whole30-friendly!

Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing in a white square bowl on a green napkin on a wooden table next to a serving glass of dressing

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Easy strawberry cucumber salad

I love a salad* with a lot of different colors and textures. But sometimes you don’t need a lot of ingredients to achieve that.

That’s why as soon as I tasted a version of this strawberry cucumber salad at a Chicago restaurant I knew I had to make my own version.

This salad is great for potlucks, picnics, parties and even events that don’t start with the letter ‘p.’

*Yes, I love salads. SOME salads. “Every Pizza Place Salad” is a real thing and it is not okay.

 

What you need for this strawberry cucumber salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound strawberries
  • 1 cucumber
  • 5 oz. baby arugula (about 4 packed cups)
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1 small bunch fresh dill
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for the salad
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup plain unsweetened yogurt of your choice
  • 1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup poppy seeds

Equipment:

How to make this strawberry cucumber salad

For the dressing:

  1. Add the yogurt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, poppy seeds and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a mason jar and shake until combined, or whisk in a bowl. Taste it – need more salt? Want it more tangy by adding more vinegar? Want it thicker by adding more yogurt? Adjust if necessary. Makes about 1 cup.

For the salad

  1. Add the pecan halves to a cold, dry 8″ skillet. Put it over medium heat and toast for 7-8 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the pecans are darker and aromatic. Pour onto a plate to cool to room temperature. Coarsely chop.
  2. Trim the green ends off the strawberries. Halve if medium or quarter if very large.
  3. Slice the cucumber in half crosswise, then halve both pieces lengthwise. With the pieces cut side down, slice crosswise into 1/2″ thick chunks. Discard the ends.
  4. Add the arugula to a large bowl. Add in the pecans, strawberries and cucumbers. Rip off small sprigs of most of the dill, reserving the rest. Season with salt and, if desired, black pepper. Toss gently.
  5. Shake or whisk the dressing again if necessary and pour about 3/4 of it over the salad and toss until coated. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle more dressing and the remaining dill over the top, if desired.

Done! See? Nothing to it.

Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing in a white square bowl on a green napkin on a wooden table next to a serving glass of dressing

 

Make ahead

You can toast and chop the pecans up to 2 weeks advance. Keep covered at room temperature or in the fridge.

You can make the dressing up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge. Give it a good whisk before serving if necessary.

Do not dress the salad until you want to serve it.

Variations and substitutions

Get ready for ideas. This salad is a great template for a ton of other ingredients.

  • Raspberries would work well here. Even though they’re not as sweet, they’d fit right in. A juicy, chopped peach or apricot would also work. You could go a little more old-school with cherry tomatoes as those are also a little sweet.
  • You could add 1 cup blueberries to the strawberries for a red, white and blue 4th of July salad! Or use blueberries in place of the strawberries.
  • I feel like most people would expect a strawberry, cucumber and spinach salad and that’s fine! Spinach would work well here. As it’s milder than arugula, I’d maybe grind some extra fresh black pepper over the whole salad for a little extra kick. You could also go with kale (the baby variety or use this trick if you want to tenderize tougher kale leaves), butter lettuce, mixed greens or dandelion greens.
  • If you want to make sure this a Whole30 strawberry salad, you have to find compliant yogurt. I used Kite Hill Plain Unsweetened Almond Milk Yogurt here and found its thickness to be just right.
  • For a vegan strawberry salad, use an unsweetened dairy-free yogurt. The I mentioned above, Kite Hill, would work well.
  • If you don’t need this to be Whole30 compliant or even dairy-free, any plain, unsweetened yogurt will do. If you want a really thick dressing, use full-fat Greek yogurt.
  • You could add feta, goat cheese or blue cheese.
  • Instead of dill, you could use basil or mint.
  • Instead of pecans, you could really use any toasted nut or seed you like.
  • To make this a full meal, top with chicken and/or hard-boiled eggs.

Now that I think about it, if you really want to change it up, you could throw the berries, cukes, leafy greens, herbs and yogurt in a blender and make a lovely green smoothie. But I’m going to stop here before things get really crazy.

Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing in a white square bowl on a green napkin on a wooden table with a spoon drizzling the dressing over it

 

 

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2 images of Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing in a white square bowl on a green napkin on a wooden table
2 images of Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing in a white square bowl on a green napkin on a wooden table
Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing in a white square bowl on a green napkin on a wooden table next to a serving glass of dressing
Print Recipe
5 from 14 votes

Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing

A vibrant, fresh and easy salad that's bursting with flavor and nutrients. And it's all coated in a creamy yogurt dressing that you can make dairy-free!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: arugula, cucumber, poppy seed, salad, strawberry, yogurt
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

For the Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing

  • ¾ cup plain unsweetened yogurt of your choice (see above for dairy-free/Whole30-compliant notes)
  • tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (white wine or apple cider vinegar or lemon juice would also work)
  • ¾ teaspoon poppy seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

For the salad

  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 1 cucumber
  • 5 oz baby arugula (about 4 cups packed)
  • 1 small bunch fresh dill
  • fine sea salt, for seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning (optional)

Instructions

For the dressing:

  • Add all the ingredients to a mason jar and shake until combined, or whisk in a bowl. Taste it - need more salt? Want it more tangy by adding more vinegar? Want it thicker by adding more yogurt? Adjust if necessary. Makes about 1 cup.

For the salad

  • Add the pecan halves to a cold, dry 8" skillet. Put it over medium heat and toast for 7-8 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the pecans are darker and aromatic. Pour onto a plate to cool to room temperature. Coarsely chop.
  • Trim the green ends off the strawberries. Halve if medium or quarter if very large.
  • Slice the cucumber in half crosswise, then halve both pieces lengthwise. With the pieces cut side down, slice crosswise into 1/2" thick chunks. Discard the ends.
  • Add the arugula to a large bowl. Add in the pecans, strawberries and cucumbers. Rip off small sprigs of most of the dill, reserving the rest. Season with salt and, if desired, black pepper. Toss gently.
  • Shake or whisk the dressing again if necessary and pour about 3/4 of it over the salad and toss until coated. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle more dressing and the remaining dill over the top, if desired.

Notes

Make ahead
You can toast and chop the pecans up to 2 weeks advance. Keep covered at room temperature or in the fridge.
You can make the dressing up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge. Give it a good whisk before serving if necessary.
Do not dress the salad until you want to serve it.
 
Variations and substitutions
Get ready for ideas. This salad is a great template for a ton of other ingredients.
  • Raspberries would work well here. Even though they're not as sweet, they'd fit right in. A juicy, chopped peach or apricot would also work. You could go a little more old-school with cherry tomatoes as those are also a little sweet.
  • You could add 1 cup blueberries to the strawberries for a red, white and blue 4th of July salad!
  • I feel like most people would expect a strawberry, cucumber and spinach salad and that's fine! Spinach would work well here. As it's milder than arugula, I'd maybe grind some extra fresh black pepper over the whole salad for a little extra kick. You could also go with kale (the baby variety or use this trick if you want to tenderize tougher kale leaves), butter lettuce, mixed greens or the aforementioned dandelion greens.
  • If you want to make sure this a Whole30 strawberry salad, you have to find compliant yogurt. I used Kite Hill Plain Unsweetened Almond Milk Yogurt here and found its thickness to be just right.
  • For a vegan strawberry salad, use an unsweetened dairy-free yogurt. The I mentioned above, Kite Hill, would work well.
  • If you don’t need this to be Whole30 compliant or even dairy-free, any plain, unsweetened yogurt will do. If you want a really thick dressing, use full-fat Greek yogurt.
  • You could add feta, goat cheese or blue cheese.
  • Instead of dill, you could use basil or mint.
  • Instead of pecans, you could really use any toasted nut or seed you like.
  • To make this a full meal, top with chicken and/or hard-boiled eggs.

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2 images of Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing in a white square bowl on a green napkin on a wooden table


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