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Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

In this Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad, a bed of tender baby spinach is topped with plump and juicy strawberries, thinly sliced red onion, crumbled goat cheese, and candied walnuts then drizzled with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Strawberry goat cheese salad in a bowl with a fork.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients for strawberry goat cheese salad with labels.

Ingredient Notes

  • Hearty spinach is the perfect base for holding up under the toppings and dressing. You could also use green leaf lettuce, kale, or arugula.
  • Crumbled goat cheese adds a nice creaminess to the salad. You could also use feta, blue cheese, or gorgonzola.
  • Candied walnuts provide a bit of crunch and sweetness to the salad. Pecans, almonds, cashews, or any other nut could be used instead.
  • Sweet and tart strawberries pair really well in this salad. But really, you could use any berry that you like. Diced apple or pear would also taste great!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Brown sugar sauce simmer in a skillet with a spatula.

Step 1:

In a small saucepan, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and water. Heat over medium until bubbling. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 1 minute or until the sauce has thickened.

Walnuts tossed in brown sugar sauce in a skillet with a spatula.

Step 2:

Toss the walnut pieces in the sauce and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the walnuts are fully coated and the sauce has become sticky.

Candied walnuts spread out on parchment paper.

Step 3:

Transfer the candied walnuts to a parchment-lined baking sheet spreading them out as much as possible.

Allow them to cool for at least 1 hour at room temperature before breaking them apart. You can also place them in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Balsamic dressing in a bottle with a pour spout.

Step 4:

In a bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined.

Then, very slowly, drizzle in the olive oil whisking the whole time. Transfer the dressing to a pour bottle (optional).

Strawberry goat cheese salad in a bowl with a fork before adding the dressing.

Step 5:

Assemble the salad by layering spinach, strawberries, red onion, candied walnuts, and goat cheese.

Note: You can make individual salads or one large family-style salad.

Balsamic dressing being poured over strawberry goat cheese salad.

Step 6:

Drizzle the salad with the balsamic dressing. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • Allow the candied walnuts to fully cool before breaking them apart.
  • When you are making the salad dressing, be sure to drizzle the olive oil in very slowly whisking the whole time. If you pour a bit too fast, stop adding oil and whisk vigorously until everything comes together. Then, you can continue adding more oil.
  • Another option for making the dressing is to use a food processor. Add everything except for the oil and pulse them together. Then, slowly pour the oil in through the feed tube on top while the processor is running. This results in a thicker dressing but is easier than mixing by hand.
Strawberry goat cheese salad in a bowl with a fork.

Storage

Storage

Store the components separately in airtight containers in the fridge.

Then, assemble the salads right before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far ahead of time can I make the salad?

You can prep the components a day or two ahead of time. Store the salad components individually then assemble just before serving.

How can I make this salad into a full meal?

You could add roasted chicken, salmon, chickpeas, or any other protein to create a full meal.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Leave a ⭐️ star rating below and share it on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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Strawberry goat cheese salad topped with balsamic dressing.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

Spinach topped with strawberries, red onion, crumbled goat cheese, and candied walnuts then drizzled with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Save Recipe
Course: Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 salads
Author: Alicia S.

Ingredients

Candied Walnuts

  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 tablespooons brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt fine kosher or sea
  • 2 teaspoons water

Balsamic Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt fine kosher or sea
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salad

  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 cup strawberries sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 3-4 ounces goat cheese crumbled

Instructions

Candied Walnuts

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
  • Into a small saucepan, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and water. Heat over medium until bubbling. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
  • Add the walnuts and toss to coat. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes or until the walnuts are fully coated and the sauce has become thick and sticky.
  • Transfer the walnuts to the prepared baking sheet. Cool at room temp for 1 hour or in the fridge for 10 minutes. Break apart any large pieces.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • In a bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Then, very slowly, drizzle in the olive oil whisking the whole time. (see note)

Assemble the salads

  • For individual salads, divide the spinach between 4 bowls. Top each with an equal amount of strawberries, red onion, goat cheese, and candied walnuts. Drizzle the salads with the dressing or serve it on the side. Serve immediately.
  • For a large family-style salad, place the spinach in a large bowl and toss with just enough dressing to coat the leaves. (Note, you'll probably have extra dressing to serve on the side.) Then, top with the strawberries, red onion, goat cheese, and candied walnuts. Serve immediately.

Notes

Notes:
  • When adding the olive oil to the dressing, you want to pour it VERY slowly. Practically a drizzle. If you pour a bit too fast, stop adding oil and whisk vigorously until everything comes together. Then, continue adding the oil slowly.
  • The dressing can be made in a food processor. Simply everything except for the oil to the food processor and pulse to combine. Then, slowly pour the oil in through the feed tube on top while the processor is running. This will result in a thicker dressing but is easier than mixing by hand.
Storage:
  • Store the components separately in airtight containers in the fridge. Assemble just before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 737mg | Potassium: 450mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 3557IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 3mg
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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