Strawberry Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Homemade Balsamic Dressing

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Remember this strawberry spinach salad for Memorial Day Weekend, a graduation party, July 4th or any summer gathering. The fresh strawberries serve two roles – an element in the salad and a surprise guest in the dressing too. First published in 2011, this salad never gets old!

This post is part of a group called Progressive Eats, a virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month is hosted by Laura Kumin, the founder of the blog Mother Would Know. We’re featuring dishes that remind us of spring. Be sure to check out all the delicious recipes at the end of this post!

strawberry spinach salad in a red bowl with a white towel

Ring in the Berry Season with a Sweet and Savory Salad!

You’ve just bought the six-pack of strawberries at the farmers’ market and you only have two or three days to polish them off before they are past their prime. What is a berry lover to do?

Aside from the obvious — snacking on them whole or sliced — there are oh so many ways to use them up. Desserts are the obvious direction but how about adding them to a salad? If you think you don’t like sweet with your savory, this strawberry spinach salad with goat cheese and toasted pecans will change your mind.

What Dressing Should I use for a Strawberry Spinach Salad?

strawberry balsamic dressing in strawberry bowl with white towel

When I first made this salad for a Teacher Appreciation Luncheon, I considered taking a shortcut and buying a bottle of salad dressing. When I studied the ingredients in the “healthy” salad dressings at the grocery store, I decided to make my own since they all started with sugar or water as a first ingredient. And you’ll be amazed how easy it is to make this dressing.

Is this Salad Good for You?

sliced strawberries and spinach in a wooden bowl

Aside from how much we all love the sweet, squishy goodness of a fresh strawberry, don’t forget it’s also packed with nutrients. For more details about its nutritional qualities, head over to this post about my farm tour in Watsonville and read the section called #8aday. Suffice it to say, the American Diabetes Association considers strawberries to be one of their ten superfoods.

How to Prepare a Strawberry Spinach Salad

strawberry spinach salad in red bowl with wooden serving spoons

This salad can be prepared ahead to take to a gathering or just whipped up for a quick weeknight meal. Here’s how I would put it together to take to a picnic, party, or weekend dinner party:

  1. Use pre-washed spinach – it’s a great shortcut. But if you are washing your own, spin and dry and place it in the bowl or a to-go container or bag for transport.
  2. Wash and dry the strawberries. If you are serving the salad fairly quickly, go ahead and slice them up. If it will be a few hours, I would bring a small paring knife and slice them when you put the salad together
  3. Toast and chop the pecans – this can be done hours ahead or even the day before.
  4. If you buy a log of goat cheese, and not the pre-crumbled container, you could crumble it ahead and pack it to go in a container so you can just toss it on the salad.
  5. Prepare the dressing as early as a few days ahead if you’d like – it will be fine stored in the fridge.
  6. Pack it all in a cooler. Assemble it right before dinner is served. Remember to bring your serving utensils. The host or hostess will thank you!

Can I Make Substitutions in this Salad?

There are many ways to change up this salad to your own tastes or based on what ingredients you have in the house.

  • Try other berries or even stone fruit such as peaches.
  • Switch up the cheese or if serving a vegan, leave it out all-together. Feta would be a wonderful substitution for the goat cheese.
  • Change the nut choice – try almonds or pine nuts or walnuts or even macadamias.
  • The greens – arugula is a great alternative to the spinach or even mix the two.

strawberry spinach salad in red bowl with serving utensils on top

Can I Serve this Salad as a Main Course?

I have added chicken to this salad and turned it into a main course for lunch or dinner. I think pork tenderloin would also be an excellent choice. But even without the meat, the cheese and nuts make it a hearty salad. Or consider adding some lentils or quinoa.

strawberry spinach salad in red bowl with wooden serving spoons
5 from 14 votes
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Strawberry Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Pecans and Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

You'll love this colorful sweet and savory salad all berry season long. There's lots of protein and texture with the added cheese and nuts or add chicken, pork, or grains for an even heartier version

Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword balsamic dressing, spinach, strawberry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 370 kcal

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Fresh thyme or basil - to taste
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 10 oz Pre-washed spinach or wash your own
  • 1/2 cup Raw pecans toasted * and rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain goat cheese crumbled
  • Strawberries about 10 or 15 sliced
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

To prepare the dressing:

  1. Put sliced strawberries and balsamic vinegar into a blender; liquefy briefly.

  2. Add in fresh herbs (thyme or basil) and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Then add the olive oil. Blend until the oil combines well with the other ingredients - it will change color and texture as it does.

  3. Take cover off and taste - add more salt, pepper, or fresh herbs if needed. This recipe makes enough dressing (about 1 3/4 cup) for at least 2 or 3 salads.

    strawberry balsamic dressing in strawberry bowl with white towel

To prepare the salad:

  1. Place spinach in a bowl or on a large platter. In any order that you like, place toasted pecans, sliced strawberries, and crumbled goat cheese on top. Salt and pepper to taste then serve with the strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. If you are serving this as a main course, add chicken (store-bought rotisserie chicken on a busy weeknight will do just fine)

Recipe Notes

*You can toast nuts by placing on a baking sheet in a toaster oven or in a regular oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – they go from deliciously toasty to burnt rather quickly.

Progressive Eats

Spring has Sprung Dishes that highlight ingredients and flavors associated with spring

Beverages

Appetizers

Soup

Bread

Main Courses

Side Dishes

Desserts

 

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33 Responses to Strawberry Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Homemade Balsamic Dressing

  1. Susan Woolf July 22, 2019 at 8:15 am #

    5 stars
    OMG – Definitely a keeper!

  2. Susan Woolf July 22, 2019 at 8:15 am #

    OMG – the pictures alone are making me salivate.

  3. Susan Woolf July 22, 2019 at 8:15 am #

    5 stars
    I haven’t yet tried to make this salad, but OMG – the pictures alone are making me salivate.

  4. Sandi June 27, 2019 at 9:27 am #

    5 stars
    Strawberries are so sweet during the summer. I bet they are extra special in this salad.

    • Beth Lee July 8, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

      The fruits of summer are such a natural wonder aren’t they?

  5. Jenni June 7, 2019 at 1:09 pm #

    5 stars
    Such a classic salad, and your dressing is spectacular!

  6. Laura June 5, 2019 at 1:48 pm #

    5 stars
    What a refreshing salad! I’m all about goat cheese right now. And strawberries make everything better! YUM!

  7. Ansh May 31, 2019 at 12:37 pm #

    5 stars
    There is something about strawberry and spinach that just works. The peppery spinach taste works so well with strawberries. what a fantastic way to ring in the berry season!

  8. Coleen @ The Redhead Baker May 31, 2019 at 7:33 am #

    Strawberry salads are the best! They just scream “it’s almost summer!”

  9. Laura @motherwouldknow May 30, 2019 at 2:30 pm #

    5 stars
    Strawberries in a spinach salad? Yes please! Your tastebuds and mine are definitely from the same tastebud tree – I wouldn’t change a thing about this salad, unless of course, I’m missing one of the ingredients and have to substitute:)

  10. Carol Borchardt May 30, 2019 at 8:38 am #

    5 stars
    I love a spinach strawberry salad and the goat cheese and pecans added really sounds amazing! We have a balsamic vinaigrette that we make but have never added strawberries to it. What a great idea and I’m going to try yours for sure!

    • Beth Lee May 30, 2019 at 9:04 am #

      The strawberry addition is fun! And a natural partner w the balsamic. Makes for a thicker texture and a pretty color.

  11. Sarah Walker Caron May 29, 2019 at 1:26 pm #

    5 stars
    I love, love, love salads like this that combine greens, fruit and cheese. And that dressing sounds divine. YUM!

    • Beth Lee May 29, 2019 at 5:18 pm #

      Much yumminess in all the dishes this month! I want this to be a real progressive dinner, not virtual!

  12. Karen May 28, 2019 at 5:57 pm #

    Those strawberries you found are absolutely perfect. Love the strawberry bowl too!

    • Beth Lee May 29, 2019 at 5:18 pm #

      So excited it’s berry season again!

  13. Barb | Creative Culinary May 28, 2019 at 5:38 pm #

    5 stars
    I absolutely love salads like this Beth, I make more fruit and cheese combinations than those with tomatoes; I find most tomatoes are just not worthy unless it’s mid summer.

    Strawberries and spinach AND goat cheese. Oh my is right!

    • Beth Lee May 29, 2019 at 5:17 pm #

      What a match this would be with your berry brie!

  14. Jane May 28, 2019 at 1:16 pm #

    5 stars
    I can’t believe I’ve never made a strawberry and spinach salad and I need to remedy that with this amazing recipe! Your photos leap off the page – so beautiful Beth!!

    • Beth Lee May 28, 2019 at 1:36 pm #

      Thx Jane! I know your version of this salad would be creative and delicious.

  15. Tamara Andersen May 28, 2019 at 8:12 am #

    5 stars
    What a beautiful late spring salad you’ve created! I love strawberries and spinach together, and the dressing sounds divine!

    • Beth Lee May 28, 2019 at 9:29 am #

      Thank you! And it will keep on showing up on our table all summer long.

  16. Liz May 28, 2019 at 4:32 am #

    5 stars
    Oh, my! I love that you made a homemade dressing—and added pecans and goat cheese! A delicious twist on my usual spinach and strawberry salad! So yummy.

    • Beth Lee May 28, 2019 at 7:05 am #

      I was especially proud of the dressing – because it’s so easy to just fall back on what you know or let someone else make it. But salad dressing is really so easy!

  17. Michael October 2, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    That looks delicious! Really starting to love strawberries in a salad. I probably had it five times this pst summer. And homemade dressing! YES!

    • omgyummy October 3, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      I bet one of your mustards could be lovely in a different riff on the dressing! Oh the nuts, strawberries, cheese, and greens are just so beautiful together, so tasty, and good for you too. What could be better!

  18. healthyyou72 July 12, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Love love the OMG out of strawberries, so cute!!! I agree buying store bought dressing is annoying, too much high fructose corn syrup, yuck! Your salad looks gorgeous:-)
    Hugs, Terra

  19. Tina May 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I would love to invite you over to THIS WEEK’S CRAVINGS linky party for Summer Salads. This recipe would be perfect, we hope you stop by and link it up! Thanks a million!

    http://momscrazycooking.blogspot.com/2011/05/this-weeks-cravings-30-summer-salads.html

  20. rsmacaalay May 15, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    I love that OMG strawberries!

  21. @yumivore May 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Strawberries and balsamic dressing is a match made in heaven. Wonderful ideas for spring strawberries!

  22. sandy corman May 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    all looks and sounds delicious.

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