I’ve made several versions of Strawberry Spinach Salad over the years, but this by far is my favorite! It includes fresh strawberries, salty feta cheese, candied pecans, and an easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The textures and flavors are insanely delicious and compliment each other perfectly! It reminds you of a fancy salad that you’d get at a cafe, but you can make it at home for a fraction of the cost. This is one of those “summer” salads that I could literally eat all year long!
What’s in Strawberry Spinach Salad
Strawberry Spinach Salad includes lots of wonderful flavors and textures that compliment each other perfectly. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Baby Spinach – a simple bed of spinach greens is the base foundation for this salad.
- Strawberries – fresh, juicy, strawberries add a simple and wonderful sweetness.
- Red onion – slightly sharp and a nice contrast to the sweetness of the strawberries and candied pecans.
- Feta cheese – soft, creamy, salty feta cheese pairs well with the strawberries in this salad. If you’re not a fan of feta cheese, goat cheese or blue cheese would also work well.
- Candied pecans – these candied pecans, in my humble opinion, are one of the best parts of the salad. It adds a crunchy, sweet texture, and you can swap the pecans out for toasted walnuts or toasted sliced almonds, which would also be totally delicious!
- Balsamic vinaigrette – easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing tops it all off.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
The dressing for this strawberry salad is probably my favorite part…ok it’s actually tied with the candied pecans! I started with Beth’s easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette and made one adjustment by replacing the mayonnaise with honey for a slightly sweeter taste. The results – absolutely amazing!
You can certainly use a store bought balsamic vinaigrette if you don’t have a well stocked pantry with all the necessary ingredients on hand, but I promise this homemade balsamic vinaigrette will taste wayyy better! I highly recommend you give it a try! ;)
Budget-Friendly Recipe Tips
- If chopped nuts are a little too costly at your local store, toast up some day-old bread to use in place of the chopped pecans, similar to our Panzanella salad.
- To bulk up the salad and make it stretch a little further, add your favorite pasta like penne or bow-tie pasta.
How To Store Strawberry Spinach Salad
Strawberry spinach salad stores well in the fridge for up to 3 days. In order to keep the spinach from wilting too much, it’s best to store the strawberries and the dressing separately and add them to the salad right before you’re ready to serve.
This salad makes a great lunch meal by itself, Monti and I totally gobbled it up at the test studio, but you can also add some grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp on top for a more filling meal. This salad also pairs well with other leaner protein like baked cod and pan-seared chicken.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
- 1/2 Tbsp butter ($0.07)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.08)
- 1 pinch salt ($0.01)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans ($1.15)
- 8 oz baby spinach ($1.83)
- 1/2 lb strawberries, sliced ($1.25)
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced ($0.21)
- 2 oz crumbled feta cheese ($1.82)
- Start by making the homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, minced garlic clove, dried basil, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper to a jar, bowl, or blender. Close the jar and shake the ingredients together, whisk in a bowl, or blend until the dressing is evenly combined. Set the dressing aside.
- Next make the candied pecans. Add the butter, brown sugar and a pinch of salt to a small non-stick skillet. Heat over medium heat while stirring.
- Once the butter and brown sugar begins to melt add the chopped pecans to the skillet and stir with the brown sugar mixture. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring every 10-15 seconds until the brown sugar fully melts (looks glossy instead of grainy) and completely coats the pecans.
- Remove the skillet from the heat immediately and transfer the candied pecans to a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the pecans out evenly in a flat layer and allow them to cool for 10 minutes while the candied coating fully hardens.
- Now prep the strawberries, red onion and feta cheese. Remove the stems and slice the strawberries, thinly slice the red onion, and crumble the feta. Set these ingredients to the side.
- Divide the spinach between four plates. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinaigrette on top of each bed of spinach.
- Add sliced strawberries, red onions, a tablespoon or two of candied pecans, and a tablespoon of feta cheese to each salad. Feel free to drizzle a little more balsamic vinaigrette over the top of each and enjoy!
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HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY SPINACH SALAD – STEP BY STEP PHOTOS
Start by making the homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp honey, 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove minced, 1/2 tsp dried basic, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper to a jar, bowl, or blender. Add a top to the jar and shake, whisk in a bowl, or blend until all the ingredients are evenly combined. Set the vinaigrette dressing aside.
Next make the candied pecans. In a small non-stick skillet add 1/2 Tbsp butter, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Heat over medium heat while stirring just until the butter and brown sugar begins to melt. Add 1/2 cup of chopped pecan and stir to coat in the brown sugar mixture. Continue to cook for 2-4 minutes or until the brown sugar is fully melted (looks glossy, not grainy) and completely coating the pecans.
Remove the skillet from the heat immediately, to prevent the brown sugar from over cooking and burning. Transfer the candied pecans to a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out in a flat layer. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes and the sugar coating will fully harden.
Now prep the rest of the salad ingredients. Wash and slice 1/2 pound of strawberries, thinly slice 1/4 of a red onion, portion out 2 oz of crumbled feta cheese, and gather your cooled candied pecans.
Divide 8 oz of spinach between four salad plates (roughly 2 oz per plate) or you can add all of the spinach to a larger serving bowl. Add 2 Tbsp of the balsamic vinaigrette to each salad plate or drizzle 1/3 cup of the dressing over the bowl of spinach. Reserve the rest of the dressing to add right before serving.
Divide the toppings (sliced strawberries, sliced red onion, 1 tablespoon of crumbled feta, and 1-2 tablespoons of candied pecans) between the four salad plates or add the toppings to a larger salad serving bowl. Drizzle each salad with a little more of the balsamic dressing and enjoy!