Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Candied Walnuts and Goat’s Cheese

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

With summer in full swing, fresh fruits and vegetables are ripe and delicious, and sweet, juicy strawberries aren’t just for desserts!  They brighten up this spinach salad and pair perfectly with crunchy candied walnuts, creamy, tangy goat’s cheese, and a beautiful homemade poppy seed dressing.  This salad is packed with a ton of bold, but complementary, flavors that will have you going back for seconds and thirds!

This week’s recipe:  Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Candied Walnuts and Goat’s Cheese

Why we like it:

Did you know it’s actually quite simple to make your own salad dressings?  Even your most-loved bottled dressings can be replicated at home with a few simple ingredients and, best of all, no preservatives or unknown additives!  This sweet and tangy poppy seed dressing is quick to whip up in the blender, and you’ll have plenty leftover to keep in the fridge for your next meal.

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup sugar + ¼ cup for candied walnuts

3 tbsp chopped onion

1 tbsp salt

¾ tsp dry mustard

1 ½ tbsp poppy seeds

1 cup walnut halves or pieces

1 bag baby spinach (approx. 200-250g)

2 cups sliced strawberries

½ cup crumbled goat’s cheese

 

Start by making your poppy seed dressing.  Finely chop your onion and place in a blender.  You can use red onion if you wish to give your dressing a pink hue, otherwise, stick with white or yellow onion.

Chopped onion in measuring spoon

Add the vegetable oil, vinegar, ½ cup sugar, salt, and dry mustard.  Don’t add the poppy seeds just yet.

Images of dressing ingredients

Blend on high for about a minute until there are no chunks of onion left.  Add the poppy seeds and pulse a few times to incorporate them into the dressing.  Pour into a jar and refrigerate while you make the rest of the salad.  (You’ll have plenty of dressing left for future salads!)

Adding poppy seeds to the dressing

Now onto the candied walnuts.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Lay your walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes.  You can leave them in for a few more minutes if they’re not toasted enough, but be careful not to burn them.

Baked candied walnuts

Remove the walnuts from the oven and let them cool.  While they are cooling, pour ¼ cup of sugar into a small saucepan.  Cook the sugar over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon as the sugar starts to melt.  Stir until the sugar begins to turn an amber color, and then add the walnuts, stirring quickly to coat each piece with the sugar syrup.

Walnuts in sugar syrup

Once the walnuts are coated, spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Use two forks to separate the pieces so you don’t end up with clumps, and then leave them to cool completely.

Walnuts cooling on parchment paper

Now it’s time to assemble your salad.  Wash and slice your strawberries.

Sliced Strawberries

Place your spinach in a large bowl and add the strawberries.  Drizzle your dressing on top and toss well.  Go easy on the dressing, as spinach gets soggy quite easily.

Pouring dressing over salad greens

Sprinkle on your candied walnuts and crumble the goat’s cheese on top.

Adding walnuts and cheese to the salad

The perfect sweet and savory summer salad!

Completed salad ready to eat

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