Call me obsessed, but anytime I get to add berries to a dish, I’ll do it. I mean, what’s not to love? They’re juicy, bite-sized and rich in antioxidants! Plus, they bring back all of those happy childhood memories of snacking on blackberries by the pool with my family.
This summer berry salad is loaded with blueberries, blackberries, arugula, cucumbers, avocados, goat cheese and sugared almonds. Sweet, refreshing and just a hint of balsamic vinegar to top it off! It is the perfect side dish to go with a seafood or red meat dish.
Let me preface this by saying that this berry salad is extremely flexible when it comes to ingredients. So if you can’t find a specific berry or cheese, it’s okay! I’m going to share some variations in another section (see Variations and Mix-ins).
- Blueberries and blackberries: It’s not every day you see a salad with a dark blue or black hue. These berries are sweet and slightly sour, and are so yummy with goat cheese.
- Arugula: Also known as rocket leaves, these leafy greens have a nutty and slightly bitter taste, complimenting the sugared almonds and earthy flavor of goat cheese.
- Avocado: A healthy dose of good fats!
- Baby cucumber: Crispy and succulent, bursting into water with every bite.
- Candied almonds: One of the things that makes this berry salad so darn addictive! These crunchy almonds are coated with caramelized sugar over heat, and I’ll share exactly how to do this.
The dressing for this salad recipe is a creamy balsamic vinaigrette. It’s equal parts sweet, tangy, and savory!
You will need:
- Balsamic vinegar: This light acidic dressing lifts up the ingredients it is paired with, and in this case we’re making it creamy!
- Extra virgin olive oil: Regular oil also works, but the idea is to add oil to the vinegar.
- Garlic: Delicious and slightly spicy, garlic gives that tangy kick when eaten raw!
- Mayonnaise: I recommend going for the best quality, something like Hellmann’s Real Mayo
- Dijon mustard: This is what gets the vinaigrette to a lush creamy consistency. I always have a bottle of Maille dijon mustard stocked in my pantry!
- Honey: To sweeten the vinaigrette.
- Pinch of salt and pepper: To your taste.
- Make the dressing:
In a bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until well mixed. You should get a creamy consistency. Season to taste with pepper. Place in the fridge until ready to use. Whisk together again right before pouring over the salad.
- Make the candied almonds:
Scatter the almonds in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour in the sugar, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and is caramelized, coating the almonds. Keep a careful watch 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.
- Make the salad:
In a large bowl, toss the arugula with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle on the blackberries, blueberries, cucumbers and avocado.
- Put them all together!
Whisk the balsamic dressing again before drizzling it onto the berry salad. Start by drizzling some of the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Top with candied almonds and goat cheese.
- Bon appetit!
Expert Tips & Tricks
Salad is an undemanding dish, but follow these fool-proof expert tips that you can apply whenever to all your veggie-licious endeavors!
- When it comes to salad dressing, always remember the golden rule: You can always add more, but you can’t save it if there’s too much. Drizzle a little bit of dressing and add more if necessary. Nobody likes a soggy salad!
- How can you tell when an avocado is ripe? The skin should be brown in color, and when you press it with your fingers, it should feel soft, but not mushy.
- Wash your vegetables and fruits thoroughly, especially if eaten raw. Unless you’re purchasing from the organics section, normal produce is usually treated with artificial fertilizers and nasty pesticides. Soak your produce in baking soda and water (1 teaspoon baking soda to 2 cups of water) and rinse it a couple of times – see how much dirt is left behind in the water!
- If you are swapping the berries in my recipe for another type of berry, please make sure to check that they are safe to be eaten raw! The elderberry has toxic substances that can cause nausea and vomiting if consumed raw.
Variations & Mix-Ins
Keep your salads interesting and berry colorful (pun intended) by choosing to combine different fresh berries with a complementing nut/seed! Some berries taste sweet, others may taste sour or bitter, even. To achieve a palatable balance, match it with a nut or seed!
Try these interesting combinations:
- Strawberries with candied pecans
- Raspberries with toasted walnuts and sunflower seeds
- Mulberries with pine nuts and honey coated cashew nuts
- Cranberries with honey coated cashew nuts
- Goji berry with salted macadamia nuts
- Ripe Blackcurrants with candied pecans
- Acai berry with pine nuts
- Raisins with toasted pistachio
What other mix-ins have you tried? Please leave a comment and share it with me, I’d love to try it one day!
Berry Salad Recipe
- 5 ounce box of arugula
- 3 baby seedless cucumbers thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup blueberries
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 avocado diced
- 3/4 cup chilled goat cheese crumbled
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- 3 tablespoons sugar
CREAMY BALSAMIC DRESSING
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (best quality such as Hellmann's Real)
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (I prefer Maille brand)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- pinch of salt + pepper
- Make the dressing: In a bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until well blended. Season to taste with 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.
- In a large bowl, toss the arugula with a pinch of salt.
- Sprinkle on the blackberries, blueberries, cucumbers and avocado.
- Remove Balsamic dressing from the refrigerator and whisk the dressing again before adding to the salad. Start by drizzling some of dressing all over the salad and toss gently to combine. Pro Tip: Always remember the golden rule- You can always add more! Start with a little bit of dressing and add more if necessary. You don't want a soggy salad!
- Top with candied almonds and goat cheese.