Every summer, my husband and I host barbecue parties for our family and friends. Because I like having variation, that means needing to think of different sides and fixings for each party.
One of my must-haves is a salad – it’s healthy, refreshing and helps to balance the “heaviness” of all the grilled meats. But you’ll never see a boring salad at my party! I love serving steak salads (like this delicious steak salad with yogurt dressing), but when I need to fix something quick and easy, this strawberry summer salad is a great option.
You really can’t go wrong with this salad. It’s a bowl of mixed-texture goodness. You get iron-rich leafy greens, a kick from red onions, some creaminess from avocados and cheese, crunch from sliced nuts, and – because I’m a fan of using seasonal fruits and vegetables – the sweetness from fresh strawberries. All with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.
Ready to serve a far-from-boring, yummy side dish at your next barbecue or dinner party? This strawberry spinach salad is gonna do the job!
This strawberry summer salad recipe uses common salad ingredients that are easy to find.
For the salad, you’ll need:
- Spinach – This recipe calls for 5 oz. of spinach. You can usually find a 5 oz. box at the store. I like having some baby spinach mixed in as well for a slightly sweeter taste.
- Strawberries – For that amount of spinach, you’ll want 2 ½ cups of hulled and thinly-sliced sweet strawberries.
- Basil – We’ll use about ¾ cup of fresh basil, chiffonade. Stack your basil leaves on top of each other, roll them tightly, then use a sharp knife to slice into long, thin ribbons.
- Large avocado – Dice one jumbo avocado. You can always add more if you’re an avocado lover – I’ll never say no to more avocados!
- Red onion – Thinly slice ½ a red onion. If you’re worried about it being pungent, don’t worry!
- Pro Tip: When you are using red onions raw like in this spinach strawberry salad recipe, soak them in water first. This preserves the flavor of the onion but removes the harsh (and stubbornly lingering) aftertaste. Soak the onion slices in cold water for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving! This mellows the flavor and softens the risk of onion breath.
- Feta cheese – I use about 1 cup chilled of feta cheese, crumbled
- Sliced almonds – For a nice crunch and light protein mixed in, add 3/4 cup of sliced almonds.
- Sugar – I know what you’re thinking: Sugar? In a salad?? Yes! You’ll want to add just 3 tablespoons of sugar as it actually helps balance some of the pungent ingredients while enhancing the overall flavor of this salad.
This salad pairs well with a balsamic vinaigrette. For the salad dressing, you’ll need:
- Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar – This duo is a classic base to any good balsamic vinaigrette. You’ll want about ¼ cup of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of vinegar.
- Dijon mustard – One tablespoon of this traditional French mustard will add a nice tang.
- Honey – Just like the sugar in the salad, honey in this dressing helps to offset the acidity in the salad dressing.
- Garlic – Add one clove of garlic for that little extra kick.
- Salt and pepper – To taste.
Other Healthy Salad Toppings
This salad is great as is. But like I mentioned, I like having variation. Variety is, after all, the spice of life! And that applies to simple salads like this as well. Here are some ideas on other healthy salad toppings for this summer strawberry salad.
Add in different types of nuts for a nutty mix. My personal favorites are candied or toasted pecans, hazelnuts, and crushed pistachio. These nuts are also nutritious and heart-healthy, so you’re getting a delectable crunch and health benefits!
Do a cheese swap.
I like using feta cheese for this because it goes in harmony with the strawberries and red onion, but you can really use any cheese of your choice. Goat cheese and blue cheese are what I’d pick, but you can do anything, really!
Make it dairy-free.
Cheese got your tummy feeling funky? Swap it out for crumbled tofu instead.
Give it a protein boost.
Make this a meal on its own by adding some grilled chicken or oven-baked tempeh to your salad bowl. Grilled fish also makes a good addition!
Storage & Make Ahead Tips
Looking for an easy meal prep option? This salad is great to make ahead and store!
Here’s how to keep salad fresh: Toss all the salad ingredients together (being careful to remove any wilted leaves or moldy strawberries) and store in a glass or plastic container lined with paper towels. Make sure there’s enough air in the container to circulate. This keeps the salad crisp and fresh for up to a week.
Make the balsamic vinaigrette before hand and store in an airtight glass jar. When ready to use, shake the jar to combine all the ingredients and pour over your salad.
Strawberry Summer Salad Recipe
For Strawberry Salad:
- 5 ounces box of spinach
- 3/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade
- 2 ½ cups strawberries hulled and thinly sliced
- 1 large avocado diced
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup chilled feta cheese crumbled
- ¾ cup sliced almonds
- 3 tablespoons sugar
For Balsamic Vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ tablespoon liquid honey
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place the sliced onions in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad (this keeps their flavor but removes the harsh onion bite).
- Make the dressing: In a bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingrediants until well blended. Season to taste with salt + pepper. Place in the fridge until ready to use. Whisk together again right before pouring over the salad.
- Place the almonds in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and cook, stirring often, until the sugar melts and is caramelized, coating all of the almonds - about 6 to 8 minutes. Don’t take your eyes off of this as they can burn quickly!
- Transfer the almonds to a piece of parchment paper to let them cool. Break them into pieces if they are clumped.
- Assemble the salad: Place the spinach and basil in a large salad bowl. Add the strawberries. Drain the red onion and add to the bowl.
- Drizzle about half of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat the leaves. Assess the amount of dressing. You want the spinach leaves to be nicely moistened but not swimming in dressing. Add more dressing to your desired liking.
- Add the avocado, feta and candied almonds. Toss lightly to combine. Serve immediately, top each salad bowl with extra feta and candied almonds.