The Best Strawberry Spinach Salad

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Posted: 01/09/2023·
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This incredibly flavorful strawberry spinach salad is one of the best ways to enjoy fresh spinach! With just a few ingredients, this spinach salad is beyond easy to throw together.

Complete with a homemade spinach salad dressing, fresh strawberries, candied nuts, and tangy goat cheese your family will fall in love with this simple recipe! Read below for our tips and tricks for making the absolute best spinach salad!

top down close up view of a large white bowl filled with strawberry spinach salad with shaved goat cheese on top and candied pecans

Why We Love This Recipe

If you are looking for a fresh new salad to try that your whole family will enjoy, you’re going to love this recipe! In fact, when I made it for a recent potluck many people commented that it was the best spinach salad recipe they’d ever had! Yet, it’s so easy – this is a great recipe to serve a crowd!

This spinach salad recipe is flavorful and full of nutrients! Fresh strawberries add a bright flavorful taste to the leafy greens that pair perfectly with my homemade spinach salad dressing.

The dressing is the star of the show, and you won’t believe how simple it is to make! Thinly sliced shallots and balsamic are the perfect addition to this yummy salad.

In addition to the dressing, candied pecans bring a rich nutty flavor to the overall dish and balance out the fresh strawberries.

Finished off with goat cheese shavings, this salad is truly delicious! Are you ready to get started? I know I am, let’s go! Read below for all of my tips and tricks!

top down close up view of a large white bowl filled with strawberry spinach salad with shaved goat cheese on top and candied pecans

Strawberry Spinach Salad Ingredients

  • Baby Spinach: A great superfood! Full of vitamins A, C, and K, iron, folate, potassium, and fiber.
  • Strawberries: Provide a bright pop of sweetness and add beautiful color to the salad while adding more vitamin C, magnesium, and phosphorous to your diet.
  • Pecans: Add a crunchy, buttery texture to the salad with candied pecans. Tip: Don’t love pecans? Swap out for almonds or walnuts!
  • Shallots: A mild onion with a hint of sweetness amplifies the savory flavor of this fresh salad.
  • Olive Oil: The base of the homemade spinach salad dressing, I recommend a mild-flavored high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
  • Maple Syrup: A natural sweetener to balance out the acidic notes in the vinaigrette dressing.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Balance out the sweet notes of the dressing with this tart vinegar. Not to mention the health benefits it brings with it!
  • Balsamic Vinegar: Enhance the dressing with slightly sweet and richly flavored balsamic. Tip: I recommend opting for an elderberry or strawberry balsamic to compliment the strawberries in the salad!
  • Cinnamon: An unexpected but welcome spice to warm up the overall flavor of the vinaigrette dressing.
  • Goat Cheddar Cheese: A tangy zing that offsets the sweet elements in the rest of the salad. Opting for goat cheddar rather than traditional soft goat cheese adds an unexpected twist to the traditional strawberry spinach salad!

Step-by-Step Instructions for Strawberry Spinach Salad

  1. Prepare the Vinaigrette Dressing: Add olive oil, thinly sliced shallots, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a jar and give it a good shake to combine.
  2. Toast the Pecans: Roughly chop the pecans and place them into a medium-sized frying pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and a dish of cinnamon. Sauté on medium heat until just toasted. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Prepare the Salad: De-stem and cut clean strawberries into ⅛” slices. Place clean spinach in a large salad bowl. Add strawberries, pecans, and top with freshly shaved goat cheddar cheese.
  4. Dress the salad to taste with the prepared vinaigrette and give the salad a good toss, enjoy!

Spinach Salad Dressing

The salad dressing for this dish is made using a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to oil. I recommend using a mixture of apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar.

My preferred balsamic vinegar flavor is elderberry or strawberry, but any berry balsamic vinegar will be a great choice for this salad dressing!

I recommend using a very high-quality olive oil whenever making salad dressings.

Tips for Success & FAQs

As always, it’s best to use the more fresh ingredients available to make your salad.

Leftover spinach can be stored in the fridge inside a container or reusable bag with a dampened, wrung-out paper towel.

To keep your strawberries fresh for longer, dunk them in a vinegar water solution of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water, drain, and dry thoroughly. Store them in a paper towel-lined container with a loose lid in the refrigerator. They will last up to a week!

Chef’s Tip: Love the flavor of onions but hate the lingering aftertaste? Try soaking them in vinegar or cold ice water first for about 10 minutes stirring once or twice then drain before adding them to your salad.

Spinach Salad Substitutions

If you’d like to substitute the strawberries in this salad, blueberries or even dried cranberries make an excellent swap.

If you don’t care for goat cheese, try feta instead!

No pecans? Try almonds or walnuts instead, follow the same candying instructions listed.

Can I substitute the goat cheese for feta cheese?

Absolutely, you can easily swap either cheese for one another and still have a similar flavor in the salad. They both add a slightly tangy flavor which offsets beautifully with the sweet elements.

Can this salad be made ahead?

Rather than making the salad ahead of time, I recommend preparing all of the ingredients ahead of time and assembly when ready to enjoy. You can certainly prepare the dressing, candied pecans, and slice the strawberries and cheese ahead of time. Then, when you’re ready to enjoy – simply toss it all together!

How to Store:

Salads are best when enjoyed fresh and I don’t recommend storing this salad after the dressing is added. This recipe can be easily halved or quartered for a smaller group.

Can I add chicken or fish to this salad?

If you’re hoping to turn this salad into a complete meal, adding protein such as salmon or grilled chicken is an excellent idea!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Yield: 8-10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

The absolute best strawberry spinach salad bursting with flavor is complete with homemade spinach salad dressing!

Ingredients

Candied Pecans

  • ½ Cup Pecans - Roughly Chopped
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

Salad Dressing

  • 6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Shallots, Thinly Sliced
  • Dash of Cinnamon, to taste
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper, to taste

Salad

  • 5 oz. Baby Spinach
  • 1 Pound Strawberries - Rinsed, Stemmed, and Sliced
  • Shaved Cheddar Goat Cheese

Instructions

  1. Prepare the spinach salad dressing: Add olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, thinly sliced shallots, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a sealable jar. Give it a good shake to thoroughly combine.
  2. Prepare the candied pecans: Roughly chop the pecans and place into a medium sized frying pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and a dish of cinnamon. Sauté over medium heat until just toasted. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Prepare the salad: De-stem and cut clean strawberries into ⅛" slices. Place clean spinach in a large salad bowl. Add strawberries, candied pecans, and top with freshly shaved goat cheddar cheese.
  4. Shake the dressing once more to recombine in case of separation. Pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

Notes

Soft crumbled goat cheese is an alternative to cheddar goat cheese, use 3-4 oz. for this recipe.

More Recipes for you to Try

Looking for a hearty salad to serve at your next brunch? Try this rustic Panzanella salad! The sourdough bread makes it so delicious and filling. I love adding grilled chicken!

A smoothie is a great way to use up any additional spinach you have left over, you must try this blueberry spinach smoothie!

For the leftover strawberries, make these light and fluffy strawberry muffins or strawberry crepe cake!

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