Today, I’m sharing a favorite recipe: Strawberry Spinach Salad. It’s popular in my home and could become a staple in yours too.
As the weather gets hotter, we often prefer lighter meals. A salad is a good choice for that. Even though my family is usually not a fan of greens, they really like this salad.
This salad combines strawberries, spinach, and blue cheese for a mix of flavors. It’s so good that even picky eaters will want more.
Now, let’s get into the details of making this salad. We’ll start with how to choose the best strawberries. It’s an important step, but we’ll take it one step at a time.
Choosing the Perfect Strawberries
Strawberries are the shining stars of our salad, and choosing the right ones can make all the difference. Whether you’re shopping at a grocery store or your local farmer’s market, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- First, take a good look at the strawberries. They should be bright red, with no white or green patches. The size doesn’t necessarily determine the sweetness, so don’t be swayed by the biggest berries on the stand.
- Next, give them a gentle squeeze. They should be firm, but not hard. Overly soft strawberries are usually overripe, which can make your salad mushy.
- Sniff the strawberries. Yes, you read that right! Strawberries should have a noticeably sweet, fragrant aroma. If they don’t smell like anything, chances are good that they won’t taste like much either.
- Finally, check the leaves. They should be vibrant green and fresh-looking. Wilted or brown leaves are a sign that the strawberries are past their prime.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to live near a pick-your-own farm, I highly recommend making a family trip out of it.
My pair of young explorers love the thrill of scouting out the juiciest, ripest berries. Truth be told, sinking your teeth into strawberries plucked straight off the vine, now that’s a flavor that’s hard to match!
It’s also an entertaining, hands-on method to show youngsters how our meals start from nature.
Now, picking out the best strawberries might feel like just a tiny piece of the puzzle. But, hold up, let me tell you, it flips the script on your Strawberry Spinach Salad. Suddenly, it’s a different game altogether.
Understanding how to substitute ingredients can be useful for accommodating various dietary needs or for those times when you’re missing an item. Here are some alternatives for key ingredients in the Strawberry Spinach Salad recipe:
- Kale or Arugula: If spinach isn’t available, or you prefer a different leafy green, both kale and arugula work well as substitutes.
- Blueberries or Raspberries: For a different fruit profile, you can use blueberries or raspberries as a 1:1 substitute for strawberries.
- Feta or Goat Cheese: If blue cheese isn’t to your liking, feta or goat cheese can offer a different but still complementary flavor.
- Walnuts or Almonds: If you’re out of pecans or prefer a different nut, walnuts or almonds can be used in the same quantity.
- Balsamic or Lemon Vinaigrette: If raspberry vinaigrette isn’t available, a balsamic or lemon vinaigrette can serve as a suitable alternative.
How To Make Strawberry Spinach Salad
This delicious salad is super easy to make. 3 steps is all it will take:
Step 1: Prepare Ingredients
Wash the spinach and strawberries. Slice the strawberries and crumble the blue cheese. If you’re using whole pecans, chop them into smaller pieces.
Step 2: Assemble the Salad
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, sliced strawberries, blue cheese crumbles, and pecans. Toss the ingredients together to mix them evenly.
Step 3: Dress and Serve
Shake or whisk the raspberry vinaigrette, then pour it over the salad. Give everything a final toss to coat the ingredients with the dressing. Serve immediately for the best flavor and texture.
Exciting Variations to Try
The Strawberry Spinach Salad recipe is versatile, allowing for various tweaks and adjustments to suit different tastes and occasions. Here are some variations to consider:
Replace strawberries with mango slices and add some avocado for a tropical flair. Consider using a lime vinaigrette to complement the tropical fruits.
Use sliced apples and dried cranberries instead of strawberries, and walnuts instead of pecans. A maple vinaigrette would pair well with these autumnal flavors.
Swap out the blue cheese for feta, add some Kalamata olives, and use a lemon-oregano vinaigrette for a Mediterranean-inspired version.
If you’re accommodating a nut allergy, roasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds can replace the pecans for crunch.
For a dairy-free version, omit the cheese entirely or use a dairy-free cheese alternative.
Add some thinly sliced jalapeños or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
Sweet and Savory
Incorporate some thinly sliced red onions and a drizzle of honey over the top before adding the vinaigrette.
Can You Make This Strawberry Spinach Salad Ahead?
We’ve all been there, rushing to finish dinner because it’s been a busy day. Or maybe an up-and-coming party, and you want to complete as much as you can in advance.
The question is, can you prepare this Strawberry Spinach Salad in advance? The answer is yes, with a few considerations.
The components of this salad can certainly be prepared ahead of time.
- You can wash and dry your spinach or mixed greens. Then store them in a salad spinner or a bag with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.
- The strawberries can be hulled and sliced, and the cheese can be crumbled. If you’re adding chicken, this can also be cooked and stored separately.
Where timing really matters is in assembling the salad. The greens and strawberries, once dressed, can wilt and become soggy if left for too long. Therefore, I recommend tossing everything together just before serving.
Taking a salad to a gathering, like a picnic or a potluck? Here’s a trick. Keep the dressing packed away, apart from the rest of the salad. This way, your greens stay snappy, and your strawberries remain, well, strawberry-ish.
Does this require a bit of thought? Sure, it does. But hey, it also makes your salad a prepare-in-advance kind of deal. And that means a yummy, worry-free meal is just waiting for you, whenever you want it. Isn’t that a great way of finding sanity?
Choosing the right pairings can elevate your Strawberry Spinach Salad experience. Here are some suggestions for complementary foods and beverages:
A crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio pairs well with the fruity and tangy elements of the salad.
The lightness of grilled fish or shrimp complements the freshness of the salad without overpowering it.
Try our grilled shrimp appetizer!
Lemonade or Iced Tea
For a non-alcoholic option, freshly squeezed lemonade or a glass of iced tea can be refreshing and harmonious with the salad’s flavors.
A slice of crusty bread or a bread roll can absorb the salad’s dressing and add a contrasting texture.
Light pasta dishes, such as a lemon garlic pasta or a simple aglio e olio, can serve as a hearty side without overshadowing the salad.
A simple roast chicken with herbs can be a protein-rich and flavorful companion to the salad.
For dessert, a fruit sorbet can continue the fruity theme and offer a refreshing end to the meal.
A vegetable or chicken broth-based soup can serve as a warm and comforting start to a meal featuring the salad.
Storage and Shelf Life
Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the freshness and quality of your Strawberry Spinach Salad. Here are some guidelines:
This salad is best consumed immediately after preparation. However, if you need to store it at room temperature for a short period, keep it in a covered container for up to 2 hours.
If you plan to consume the salad within a day, storing it in the refrigerator is suitable. Place the salad in an airtight container and separate the dressing to prevent wilting. Consume within 24 hours for optimal freshness.
Freezing is not recommended for this salad, as the texture of the spinach and strawberries will be adversely affected upon thawing.
If you’ve made extra dressing, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Shake well before using.
Frequently Asked Questions
Strawberries aren’t in season. What can I use instead?
Great question! Peaches, blackberries, raspberries… take your pick. Just make sure it’s something sweet and juicy. You want to keep the balance of your salad, right?
Not a fan of blue cheese. Can I use something else?
Absolutely. The world is your cheesy oyster. Try Feta. Or Gorgonzola. Or even your favorite cheese. Each one will give your salad a whole new taste. Go wild. Experiment.
I want more protein. What can I do?
Chicken’s your answer. Grilled, preferably. Or boiled eggs. Chickpeas, too. Any of these will add an extra protein punch to your satisfying salad. And give it a little extra oomph.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
- 1 Large bunch of fresh spinach
- 1 Cup Sliced strawberries
- 1/4 Cup Blue cheese crumbles
- 1/2 Cup Honey roasted or candied pecans
- Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing
- In a large bowl, toss the spinach, blue cheese crumbles, and pecans.
- Mix strawberries into the spinach salad mixture.
- Top with the salad dressing of your choice and serve.