Spinach Salad with Papaya Seed Dressing and Coconut Cashews

This classic, sweet-tart Hawaiian dressing gets a peppery kick from ground up papaya seeds. Most papaya seed dressings are loaded with sugar. Here, dried mango replaces most of the sugar. This elegant main course salad is perfect for entertaining. I'm a huge fan of Rancho Gordo's Stardust dipping powder. It's perfect for sweet or savory dishes.

Spinach Salad with Papaya Seed Dressing and Coconut Cashews

Place the champagne vinegar, dried mango and shallot in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the agave nectar, Dijon mustard, ginger, salt and pepper and blend. Add the papaya seeds and avocado oil and blend again. 

Make the coconut cashews – Place the cashews in a medium bowl. Add the melted coconut oil, agave and coconut sugar and stir well to combine. Add the flake coconut and stardust chile powder and stir until everything is combined. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the mixture until golden brown. Pour onto a sheet of parchment paper, spread evenly and let cool to room temperature.

Peel and slice the red onion. Submerge them in a bowl of ice water. Let them sit for at least ten minutes, stirring once or twice, Drain and dry on a kitchen towel. 

Assemble the salad – In a large flat serving bowl, place the spinach. Pour 2 tbsp of dressing  and toss to combine. Top with the chopped papaya and sliced red onion. Garnish with the toasted coconut cashews. Serve with a fresh baguette and additional dressing.

serves 4 to 6


  • ⅓ cup champagne vinegar
  • ⅓ cup chopped dried mango
  • 2 tbsp shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar, optional
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp freshly grated ginger
  • ¼ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 2 tbsp papaya seeds
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp avocado oil


  • ½ cup sliced red onion
  • 5 oz organic baby spinach 
  • 1 cup chopped papaya
  • toasted coconut cashews (recipe follows)