When strawberry season comes around, this strawberry goat cheese salad with fresh basil vinaigrette dressing hits the spot for lunch or as an impressive part of your dinner menu. Brightly colored and full of sweet strawberries, tangy flavors, and crunchy bits this nutritious salad will be your go-to recipe all summer long.
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There’s something about salads that contain fruit. My winter salad of beets and grapefruit gives way to this perfect summer salad as soon as the warm weather hits.
The beautiful colors and textures are so attractive and taste delicious. This spinach strawberry goat cheese salad recipe is made with fresh greens, succulent strawberries, crunchy candied walnuts, tangy goat cheese, and a homemade balsamic dressing. It’s practically a work of art!
📖Why This Recipe Works
- Great Texture- Homemade candied walnuts provide a crunchy texture and unexpected sweetness. And the tangy cheese adds a creamy element.
- The Perfect Dressing- The homemade dressing is flavorful and sweet while providing just the right amount of vinegary pucker. The dressing can be made ahead, doubled, and stored for enjoyment in days to come
- Colorful- This green salad is topped with bright seasonal berries. For me, the best part about salads is how colorful you can make them.
Lettuce- I use a mix of peppery arugula and baby spinach for the salad base. You can also use a spring mix.
Strawberries - Medium-sized, juicy berries will work perfectly.
Goat Cheese - I buy fresh goat cheese crumbles but you can also just break up a log of cheese. If you don’t enjoy goat cheese, you can replace it with feta cheese, but your salad will have a different, saltier flavor.
Red Onion - You can replace this with any sweet onion, but the color of the red onion will look lovely. Or try swapping it out for these easy pickled onions.
Cucumber- You can use any variety in this beautiful salad but I like to use Persian cucumbers because of their small size.
Walnuts - You can substitute pecans or almonds.
Balsamic Vinegar - Balsamic vinegar is a fundamental flavor in this dressing, but in a pinch, you can replace it with red wine vinegar.
Fresh Basil - You can also chop up some basil and add it directly to the salad. If you don't have basil on hand make a regular balsamic dressing or try my low-sugar poppy seed dressing.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
💭 Ingredient Variations
This salad can be easily customized to your liking. Here are a few ways you can change up the flavors or use up ingredients from your garden or vegetable drawer.
- Add other veggies like beets or shredded red cabbage.
- Include grapes or chunks of apples or pears.
- Top the salad with feta or blue cheese instead of goat cheese.
- If you’re short on time, you can purchase candied walnuts.
- The fresh dressing in this recipe is excellent but if you need to, you can purchase a balsamic vinaigrette at the grocery store.
⏲️How to Make a Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese
This delightfully fresh summer salad recipe steps you through the process of making homemade candied walnuts, making a fresh salad, and blending together a tasty dressing. Here’s what you need to do..
Step 1- Prepare the Vegetables
Slice the red into thin slivers. Place them in a bowl with vinegar and water. Set aside. This will take a bit of the bite out. If you don't have vinegar just use lemon juice.
In a large bowl, add the cleaned spinach and arugula leaves. Remove the strawberry tops and cut them into thin slices. Chop the cucumbers into half-moons. Drain the onions and pat dry.
Step 2- Make the Candied Walnuts
Add the walnuts, sugar, and butter to a non-stick skillet and heat for 4-5 minutes. Stir while the sugar melts and the walnuts become coated in syrup. Pour out onto parchment and separate the nuts so they don’t stick together. Allow them to cool. They should be ready to eat in 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 3- Make the Salad Dressing
Add the basil, vinegar, garlic, and Dijon mustard to a blender. Pulse to combine. Slowly stream in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Step 4- Assemble the Salad
Add the berries and veggies to the greens and toss to combine.
Top your salad with candied walnuts and crumbled goat cheese. Pour the dressing overtop and gently toss to coat the leaves. Serve immediately.
🥗What to Serve with a Strawberry Salad
Here’s how to serve this spinach and strawberry salad:
- Serve on the side of a meal or as an appetizer. It makes a great starter for lemongrass grilled pork.
- Add protein like grilled chicken or shrimp for a more filling salad and a few homemade gluten-free crescent rolls.
- Serve with a tall glass of fruity lemonade or a glass of chilled white wine
Wash your greens and fruit, but take the time to dry them on paper towels so they stay crisp and do not water down the dressing.
If you think you’ll have leftover salad, serve the dressing on the side so you can put your extra salad in the fridge separately. That will help the salad stay fresh and not get soggy or wilted. Place the salad in a separate airtight container in the fridge. It should be good for 1 to 2 days.
Your dressing will be good for up to a week when stored in the fridge. A mason jar or recycled dressing bottle work great for this. You can make a larger batch if you want and use it on a garden salad or a fresh kale salad.
More Seasonal Salad Recipes
💭 Frequently Asked Questions
You can use raspberries, blueberries, apples, pears, or seedless grapes in this recipe.
Yes, it’s easy to make this salad vegan-friendly. Use vegan butter instead of regular butter, and omit the goat cheese. You can replace it with vegan cheese if you prefer.
You can use any variety of cucumbers in this recipe. However, if you think cucumbers can taste soapy at times, try a Persian cucumber. They are much sweeter.
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📖 Printable Recipe Card
Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Walnuts
- ½ cup red onion
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups arugula leaves
- 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries sliced
- 1 cup cucumbers sliced into half moons
- 4 ounces goat cheese crumbled
- 1 cup walnut halves
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Place the red onions in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the vinegar and cover with cold water. Set aside for 10 minutes while you prepare the candied walnuts and the balsamic dressing.½ cup red onion, 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- To assemble the salad mix together the spinach and arugula in a bowl or on a serving platter. Drain the onions and pat dry. Top the greens with the sliced strawberries, onions, and cucumbers. Sprinkle on the goat cheese and cooled walnuts. Serve with the dressing.2 cups baby spinach, 2 cups arugula leaves, 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, 1 cup cucumbers, 4 ounces goat cheese
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, and add walnuts, sugar, and butter. Heat over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently to coat the nuts in the candy syrup. Keep a close eye so it doesn't burn. When the sugar mixture starts melting, stir constantly until all sugar is melted and the nuts are coated.1 cup walnut halves, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper and separate the nuts right away. Cool for 5 minutes.
Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette
- Add all the basil, balsamic, garlic, and mustard to a blender. Pulse to combine. Slowly stream in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- You can substitute pickled red onions for raw red onions.
- Use any balsamic dressing or poppyseed dressing you like on this salad.
- The praline walnuts can be made several days in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Slice your cucumbers and strawberries before measuring them