Strawberry spinach salad is this salad hater's favorite salad! Delicious and classic with juicy strawberries, creamy feta cheese, and crunchy candied nuts with a bright lemon poppyseed dressing!
Oh my Lord, I'm sure my military friends are cracking up at me right now. I know my parents are laughing. My husband looked at me sideways when I said I wanted to make this recipe...
Back in RTC Great Lakes, I refused to eat salad. I was 18, and I was traumatized! I had tried a salad once at a restaurant before being shipped off to boot camp and...Ugh, it was not pleasant.
I'm a meat and potatoes type of girl; for me, greens are cooked...usually with lemon, butter, garlic, as a side dish.
Ending the dramatics--
I went out on a whim when Brian took me to the Melting Pot for our 7th wedding anniversary in December. We love going there for date night, there's just something about fondue dates and sort of playing with your food that's just so fun.
Anywhoo, so part of the meal is the salad course, and I usually skip it but I saw the strawberry spinach salad was in season and went for it. I mean, I like spinach, I like strawberries, and the candied pecans? Yes, please!
Since it's a seasonal (and even regional) salad at The Melting Pot, I knew that I needed to have a strawberry spinach salad recipe in my pocket for every day eating. It's such a simple and easy salad to make, with different textures and flavors from the firm and juicy strawberries, to the creamy and salty feta, and those sweet and crunchy candied nuts and the zing of that lemon poppyseed dressing...just yummy!
What's in a strawberry spinach salad?
Well, besides strawberries and fresh spinach, I added crumbly feta cheese (which, if you've never tried it, you need to!) and candied walnuts. I made the candied walnuts the same way I make stovetop candied pecans, so it was fast and easy to just whip up for salads.
Then I drizzle on a delicious citronette dressing. What's a citronette? It's a version of vinaigrette that is made with citrus -in this case, lemons- instead of vinegar.
I keep my strawberry spinach salad simple but here are some great ingredients to add to yours:
Slices of Red Onion.
Grilled Chicken is an absolutely perfect addition!
Toasted Almonds, Pecans, or Walnuts, instead of candied nuts.
Goat Cheese, in lieu of feta. It's just as delicious!
Fresh Raspberries, Blueberries, and Blackberries.
Blue Cheese Crumbles
Clementine, Mandarin, or Orange segments
Raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette
How to make a citronette for lemon poppyseed dressing
Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl or mason jar with a lid. Whisk (or shake in the jar) until the lemon juice, oil, and ingredients are well combined and emulsified.
How to make a strawberry spinach salad
- Candy your pecans/walnuts/nut of choice. Let them cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Wash your greens. Seriously.
- Slice the strawberries.
- Mix your lemon poppyseed dressing.
- Toss all your salad ingredients together, drizzle on that citronette, and enjoy!
Can I make Strawberry Spinach Salad ahead of time?
Yes! Make everything ahead of time, but keep the lemon poppyseed dressing in a separate container with a lid from the strawberry spinach salad.
When I served this to my family with dinner everyone loved it, even my five-year-old, Greyson. He loves strawberries and cheese (and the word 'candied') so he gobbled up this salad like it was his favorite meal. Luckily he still loves spinach...for now.
Check out some more amazing summer recipes!
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- ¾ cup (84 g) chopped walnuts or pecans
- 2 tbsp (24 g) brown sugar
- 2 tsp (9 g) unsalted butter
Lemon Poppyseed Citronette Dressing
- ¼ cup (60 mL) light olive oil or grapeseed oil
- ½ tsp (4 g) honey, optional
- ½ tsp (4 g) poppy seeds
- ½ tsp (4 g) dijon mustard
- Zest of half lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp (4 g) kosher salt
- 8 oz (240 g) fresh baby spinach, washed
- 8 oz (240 g) fresh strawberries, sliced
- 5 oz (130 g) feta cheese, crumbled
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add in the nuts and brown sugar, stirring with a silicone spatula to coat the nuts in the butter and brown sugar.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar begins to caramelize (about 3-4 minutes).
- Spread out the candied nuts on the prepared parchment paper-lined baking sheet to cool. Make sure to press them into one layer so they can cool quickly and can be broken apart from each other.
Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
- In a medium-sized bowl, add in the olive oil, poppy seeds, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, and kosher salt. Whisk vigorously until well combined and emulsified, then allow flavors to meld at room temperature for at least 5-15 minutes.
- In a large salad bowl, toss the clean spinach, strawberry slices, the cooled candied nuts, and feta cheese together.
- Serve with the lemon poppyseed dressing, but don't pour it on until ready to serve.
This salad can be made ahead, with the lemon poppyseed dressing kept in a separate container until ready to serve.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 268mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.