If you’re looking for a fresh dish that incorporates fruit, vegetables, a bit of bacon, feta, and crunchy candied pecans, you came to the right place! This strawberry spinach salad recipe is simply bursting with flavor and color – just the way we like it. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, and recipes like this one are delicious proof. Plus, when you candy your pecans yourself, it takes everything up a notch. The homemade poppy seed dressing is another add-on that you don’t want to skip. You could opt for store bought if you’re in a crunch, but made from scratch dressing holds a place near and dear to our hearts. However you decide to enjoy it, you’ll be surprised at just how delicious this flavor combination is!
There tends to be some confusion around which types of vegetables you can eat raw and which you can’t – or just aren’t that tasty! You’ve likely already seen plenty of spinach salad or spinach salad with strawberries recipes floating around out there. That’s because raw spinach is perfectly safe to eat! Opt for small-leaf varieties for the best taste. Larger and older leaves are better cooked.
One of the best parts about this spinach salad with strawberries is the candied pecans. You can technically find these at the supermarket, but like the homemade poppy seed dressing, it’s so much better when you do it yourself!
If you don’t eat bacon for personal, dietary, or religious reasons, you can always leave it out.
Can I Use Another Kind of Fruit in Strawberry Spinach Salad?
While strawberries are clearly the star of this spinach salad with strawberries recipe, you could use another type of fruit. You should try to opt for another berry if you want a similar flavor profile. Blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries would be delicious. For a nutrient-packed meal, use a combination of several!
Add-Ins and Substitutions:
There are so many ways to customize this salad to your own personal taste preferences! You can replace the feta with goat cheese, ditch the onion if you don’t like them, and even swap out the pecans for almost any other nut. Try almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds. You can also feel free to add in some croutons for even more added crunch. And again, you can always sub in for store-bought dressing if you’re in a pinch.
You can enjoy this dish as a light lunch or dinner on its own, or you could beef up the recipe to eat as a main course. Feel free to add in more protein like chicken or you could incorporate a grain such as quinoa or pasta. Farro works well too.
Alternatively, this is a fantastic side dish. Pair with grilled chicken or seafood, or even alongside burgers. Pizza would work well too! A little bit of artisan bread on the side of your strawberry spinach salad is a nice addition. It’s a great side to bring along to family parties, get-togethers, or barbecues. That said – we like to enjoy this dish all year long!
Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions:
If you are making this strawberry spinach salad for an upcoming party, or if you simply hope to plan your meals for the week, you can easily prep it ahead of time. Make the candied pecans and chop all of your ingredients – except the strawberries, you’re going to want to add those right before serving. You can keep the ingredients in the fridge for a few days. When you’re ready to serve, place everything in a bowl and mix. Cut the strawberries and add. Serve with the dressing on the side, or add it right before you’re ready to eat.
This dish is best enjoyed fresh. If you do have some leftovers, you can place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. It will keep better if you opt to leave the dressing on the side. If you have any leftover poppy seed dressing, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For the Salad:
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup candied pecans or sliced almonds
For the Dressing:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the Salad:
- In a large salad bowl, combine the fresh baby spinach, sliced strawberries, red onion, crumbled feta cheese, and candied pecans or sliced almonds.
2. Make the Dressing:
- In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined.
3. Assemble the Salad:
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad, starting with a small amount and adding more according to your taste.
- Gently toss the salad to coat the ingredients evenly with the dressing.
- Serve the Strawberry Spinach Salad immediately as a side dish or add grilled chicken or shrimp to make it a complete meal.
- Optionally, garnish with additional feta cheese or fresh ground pepper.
- For extra flavor, you can add other ingredients such as avocado slices, cucumber, or grilled chicken.
- Feel free to customize the dressing by adjusting the sweetness or acidity to your liking.
This Strawberry Spinach Salad is not only delicious but also packed with vitamins and nutrients. It’s a perfect option for a light lunch, a side dish at dinner, or a refreshing addition to a summer picnic.