June 30, 2015

Candied Nut Spinach Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

You know how when you get invited over for dinner or to a potluck and they say bring a salad, and you think, "Great. I will be bringing the least popular dish. Everyone will eat an obligatory serving and wonder what is for dessert."?

This is my solution that problem.

Super easy homemade strawberry balsamic salad dressing plus tips for the best spinach salad ever

My favorite basic combination is:
  • Spinach
  • Candied Nuts (pecans or almonds are my favorite)
  • A soft cheese (feta, blue, or goat) 
  • 1-2 fruits 
  • Homemade dressing
I like spinach because I buy big tubs of pre-washed baby spinach, so I can just throw it in the bowl. Then I chop up a fruit (usually apple or pear or strawberries) into chunks and sprinkle that on top, plus a second fruit (usually a berry like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or dried cranberries), then top it with cheese. Then I candy the nuts while I make a dressing and done! Interesting salad in less than ten minutes. 

This one is an apple, dried cranberry, candied pecan and goat cheese salad and I made a strawberry balsamic dressing. 

One of my friends introduced me to this salad dressing a long time ago in Texas and it's my favorite way to use up the last berries in the fridge that are starting to look a little sad. You could also easily swap out the strawberries for blueberries or blackberries or raspberries (I've done them all and they've all been terrific). 

If you've never candied nuts before, it's one of those things that looks really fancy but actually takes all of two ingredients. 

You'll need: 
  • 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
In a frying pan, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring often, until it is liquid and light brown (don't let it burn!). Pour the nuts in and stir thoroughly to coat, then immediately scrape them out onto a cutting board and let cool. Once they are cooled, break or chop the block of nuts into small pieces.  

And then the dressing. So easy. So good. 

Super easy homemade strawberry balsamic salad dressing plus tips for the best spinach salad ever

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
(adapted from What's Cooking)

Makes about 3/4 cup

5-6 strawberries (about half a cup)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 Cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in the blender and let mix until very well combined, about 1 minute. 

Super easy homemade strawberry balsamic salad dressing plus tips for the best spinach salad ever


  1. This looks so yummy! I often feel the same way when we have to bring salads to people's houses. I'm definitely going to try this next time!

  2. This looks delicious! Have you tried subbing honey for the sugar in the dressing? Just curious- at first glance I thought the sugar might be a bit grainy if it's not totally dissolved.

    1. I haven't! The sugar dissolves pretty fast in the vinegar, so I haven't noticed any graininess.

  3. Sounds yummy. Maybe I'll make it for our neighborhood Fourth of July cookout.

  4. By the way, am I the only one who keeps hitting the Sign Out button instead of Publish? It seems to be in the logical place for posting.

  5. Oooo this dressing! Anything I can ooo and aah over on the same plate as Alan Erdmann's pulled pork has got to be top notch. So glad you posted it!!

  6. I made this salad last night for some guests and it was such a hit! That salad dressing is so simple, but flavorful! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Oh my goodness--this is exactly my go-to salad as well (really just an excuse to eat candied nuts). Another super yummy combo is avocado, mango & poppyseed dressing.

  8. Made this tonight! The whole family loved it. That dressing though.


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