Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

A handful of fresh ingredients is all it takes to make an incredible salad that will change anyone's mind on how they feel about fruit on salad, or even just salad in general. This Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad drizzled with a homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette is the easiest and most delicious salad, and I have made it more times than I can count this summer.

Oh man, this salad. I just wish I could reach through the screen and hand you a bite of this salad to try for yourself. This salad is a new level of salad you've never seen before. I just hate when people pass off salad as "gross" or "boring" or "tasteless." Excuse me - it's not supposed to be.

Now, listen. I'm not the person who enjoys a simple house salad too often, either. You know - the terribly chopped up iceberg lettuce with shredded cheddar cheese, huge grape tomatoes, massive cucumber slices, and more red onion than anyone should eat in an entire year? Yeah, that one. Oh, and don't forget the nasty bottled ranch dressing. 

However, for me, when it comes to eating everyday salads, this is what I'm talking about. This is a SALAD. It has it all. Flavor, texture, color, sweet, salty, savory, protein, crunch, creaminess, and everything you could want in one bite.

Watching my husband eat this salad is the only gift I could ask for. He does this little happy dance (which is rare for him), and I'll catch him repeating, "man, this is just so good" or "I just love this." He was always a "fruit-on-a-salad" skeptic, but this salad has converted him fully. 

I'll bring this salad with me to work for lunch, and everyone will peek over to see what looks and smells so good. There are definitely some jealous looks. I mean, when a salad looks this good - who can resist?

What does this salad taste like?

The arugula brings the perfect balance of bitterness (in the best way) to this salad, and if you're not a fan of just arugula - no problem. Use a salad spring mix. I've done both, and both are fabulous. I sometimes do a mix of arugula and romaine, or even a combination of spring mix and romaine. Use what you and your family prefer.

The strawberries bring so much goodness, sweetness, and delicious texture to the salad. It doesn't make it feel like dessert or a fruit salad. It just brightens the salad up and helps to make the salad feel even lighter. 

The sliced avocado adds a delicious creaminess to this salad, but if you're not a fan of avocado - feel free to skip this ingredient.

The candied pecans add a crunch, sweetness, and nuttiness that this salad so desperately needs, and it completes it. If you or a family member can't have nuts, I would suggest at least doing sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)- maybe even try candying those? It would add so much to the salad.

Oh, and the goat cheese adds the perfect tang to the salad and brightness. It's ridiculous. If you're not a fan of goat cheese, try feta. It's a bit milder, but I just adore goat cheese. I always keep a container of crumbled goat cheese in my fridge. I love it on avocado toast, too. You're welcome.

Finally, if you're making this salad into a meal, like I usually do - I always add some grilled, seared, roasted, or rotisserie chicken to the top for added protein. YUUUUM.

The dressing is just icing on the cake. It adds to the brightness, and this dressing in particular is not too overwhelming. It's a great introduction to homemade balsamic dressings, plus.. it's SO easy to make. You just throw the ingredients in a jar and shake it. It really can't be any easier than that.

Ingredients Needed for Strawberry Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese

- Extra Virgin Olive Oil

- Balsamic Vinegar: not balsamic glaze

- Dijon Mustard: this is our emulsifying agent in our dressing

- Honey

- Salt and Pepper

- Arugula or Salad Spring Mix

- Strawberries

- Avocado

- Candied Pecans or Walnuts

- Goat Cheese Crumbles

- Chicken Breast, cooked and sliced

Other Optional Toppings: Toasted Pistachios, Pickled or Regular Red Onions, or Rosemary Seasoned Croutons


How to Make an Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette

1. In a jar with a lid, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper. Place the lid on tightly and shake very well until combined.

2. Once combined, the salad dressing is finished and ready to dress any salad of your choosing, although I'm partial to this Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad that has arugula, avocado, candied pecans, sliced strawberries, and lots of goat cheese. 

3. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator for later use. This dressing keeps for up to 1-2 months when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How to Assemble the Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad 

1. Prepare the balsamic vinaigrette. 

2. In a large salad bowl, add the arugula or salad spring mix. Drizzle the dressing over the greens and toss until lightly coated. Always start with less dressing than you think you'll need - you can always add more later. (Also, make sure to not dress your salad until you're ready to serve it)

3. Top the dressed greens with sliced strawberries, sliced avocado, candied pecans (or walnuts), chicken breast, and sprinkle the goat cheese on top right before serving. Serve immediately. 

You can also add toasted pistachios, pickled or sliced red onion, or rosemary croutons for added flavor and texture, if desired.


Salad Meal Prep Idea

I love to prep a bunch of these salads, making sure to pack the dressing separately, for my husband and I's work lunches.

I'll keep the strawberries, avocado, and dressing separate - so the lettuces don't get soggy. I'll go ahead and mix the nuts and goat cheese, though. Once I'm ready to eat lunch at work, I'll toss it all together, shake it up, and dive in.

I just love having a lunch that makes me excited to go eat, and also a lunch that makes me FEEL good!!! Double yay!

Other Recipe Ideas

One of my favorite meals to fix is this Honey Sesame Stir Fry with Chicken. It's fast, easy, nutritious, and packed with veggies. I love to serve it with brown rice and some cashews for crunch. 

Have even more strawberries to use up? This Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp is the perfect use for those summer beauties. It's sweet, tart, and dreamy - especially when topped with vanilla ice cream. I mean, isn't everything?

Sloppy Joes are the perfect meal to please those hard-to-please kids, and I love to sneak some extra bell peppers into mine - no one notices a thing. These are the best sloppy joes you'll ever eat, and they are so easy to double and freeze for later.

made the recipe?

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