Strawberry Pepita Salad with my favorite homemade Maple Vinaigrette drizzled over the top! Light + sweet + bright + fruity. There’s so much to love about this big bowl of leafy baby spinach and crunchy broccoli slaw.
This recipe is loaded with creamy goat cheese crumbles, crispy salted pepitas, fresh sliced summer berries, and sweet & tangy dried cranberries. So many textures and flavors tucked into every bite!
Fresh summer eats made easy with lots of pre-prepared fresh ingredients you can pick up at the store + throw together in under 15 min.
Summer = the season of salads. And thank goodness, because having just gotten back from a trip where I camped/ hiked/ and ATE my way across several states means I am in dire need of some fresh fruits and veggies back in my life. When the waistband on my “tv-watching” yoga pants starts to get uncomfortably tight, it’s probably a good time to consider working a salad or two into the weekly dinner line-up.
I'm currently weaning myself off of my vacation diet. Aka my patented two s'mores a night, double scoops of ice cream, lotsa cream in my coffee, sure I'll add bacon to that burger, just give me all the sweet potato fries, are we out of chocolate trail mix again, wait is that a donut shop..."diet".
Lucky for me, I genuinely LOVE salads. I love making them and I love eating them. It’s a no-cooking situation. Which in this hot, air-conditioner free little kitchen of mine is a GLORIOUS thing. No stove-top, no oven, no heat-source needed. Just some easy to assemble, chilled & refreshing ingredients that I can dump into a bowl and mix lazily together until it becomes something totally delicious.
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The amount of ingredients available for a fresh and tasty salad gets infinitely better once the summer months roll around. The markets are teeming with a huge variety of fresh produce. Every summer I look forward to that golden moment when the strawberry prices drop and I can get my hands on as many as I want without my wallet being any worse for the wear.
And the time is NOW, my friends. How do I know it? Because there are organic strawberries at Costco. As in BIG containers of strawberries.
The perfect excuse to put them on everything from these sweet breakfast bowls to slightly more savory salad dishes. And with an excessive amount of strawberries lurking in my kitchen, dried fruit & toasted seeds in the pantry, and leftover honey goat cheese in the fridge. Ta-DA. This salad came into being.
My go-to homemade dressing was a no-brainer addition to this already flavor-packed recipe. It works well in lots of salads because it’s a dressing that “plays well with others”. It’s not too bold or too heavy, it’s juuuuuust right.
The dressing recipe below makes around 4 servings of dressing and keeps well in the fridge in a sealed jar for 5 days or so. I like to make a lot of dressing at one time, so when I know I’m going to be eating salads for dinner several nights in a row I will just make a double or triple batch ahead of time.
It has less oil in it than you might expect a vinaigrette to have. I tend to use more vinegar than oil in my dressings (for more flavor with a little less fat).
I love using extra virgin olive oil for its slightly buttery flavor and subtle fruity flavor profile. The stone ground mustard has fine little flecks of mustard seed in it and it helps marry the maple syrup and olive oil together.
Mustard (like egg yolks or mayonnaise) is a fantastic emulsifier in dressings.
I didn't use the kind that is highly textured with lots of nearly whole mustard seeds in it, those might be too spicy for this application. You can use a creamy Dijon mustard in its place if you have that on hand, I just really like the speckling of those crushed seeds in the stone ground. I've made it with both and either Dijon or stone ground works great here.
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You can swap honey / coconut nectar in place of maple syrup. The key is to get a fuller-bodied dressing by using a sweetener that comes as a thick syrup (instead of a grainy / granulated sugar).
Stevia packets or sugar will work too if you prefer, but the texture will be less thick and it may not dissolve as well into the dressing. As long as there’s a little bit of sweetness to balance out the sour tanginess of the white wine vinegar, you are all good.
And if you decide that you want to sprinkle on even more of those tasty cranberries or load up on a lot of honey goat cheese crumbles? Well, let’s just say that I (and all my extra strawberries on top) won’t tell a soul.
Hope everyone has a fantastic Fourth of July weekend planned! If you are in a pinch trying to figure out what to serve at your pre-fireworks BBQ to balance out all the other delicious food fare, consider giving this quick recipe a shot.
Triple (or quadruple) the recipe and serve it up in a big bowl with salad tongs & dressing on the side. Then to amp up all those patriotic/ festive vibes, just add some blueberries to the strawberry + goat cheese situation and you’ll have yourself a Red, White, & Blue(berry) Salad ready to go!
Strawberry Pepita Salad + Maple Vinaigrette
- 10-12 medium strawberries sliced (tops removed)
- 6 c baby spinach
- 1 c broccoli slaw
- 3 tbs dried cranberries
- 2 tbs toasted pepitas salted
- 1 oz crumbled honey goat cheese
- ¼ c white wine vinegar
- 3 tbs stone ground mustard*
- 2 tbs maple syrup
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- MAKE THE DRESSING: Combine all dressing ingredients in a small lidded jar, seal tight, and shake well until combined.
- ASSEMBLE THE SALAD: Combine spinach and broccoli slaw in a large bowl. Spread out strawberry slices evenly over the greens. Then sprinkle on cranberries and pepitas. Use fork tongs to scrape out little crumbles of honey goat cheese over the top. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over top just before serving.