Spinach Walnut and Feta Salad

spinach-walnut-salad

I have a reputation in our various circles of friends not only as the resident foodie, but also as the queen of salads. I love bringing salads to potlucks and parties because they’re so simple to make and a really affordable option if you know where to get your ingredients. This spinach salad is my latest favorite. At my birthday party I made it with dried cranberries, today I’m using golden raisins. Whatever dried fruit you use, this dish will probably the first one gone at your next event.

I make a lot of spinach salads in the winter. Spring and summer I bust out the myriad of salad greens we get in our CSA, but in winter, spinach is the freshest choice. I buy a big box of the stuff at Sam’s club for around $3 and it lasts us about three weeks. We don’t limit its use to salads, spinach is also great in green smoothies, pasta and curry.

As I mentioned, you can really use any dried fruit in this salad. Work with what’s on sale or what you have on hand. Even regular raisins are really good. Dried blueberries are amazing, but going to cost a lot more. For the nuts, I recommend sticking with walnuts which pair very nicely with spinach. I bought about five pounds in December when all the baking nuts were on sale.  I go nut crazy because the bulk bins for nuts are all half off!  You can keep the nuts in your freezer and they’ll last quite a while.

The key to this salad is the various textures.  Each bite has velvety leaves of spinach contrasting with crunchy chunky walnuts.  The dried fruit is firm but chewy while the feta is chewy yet soft.  The dressing is a simple balsamic vinaigrette, my go to dressing since discovering a gallon of pretty good balsamic vinegar at Cash and Carry for only $14.  If you’re using a better quality or aged vinegar, taste the dressing before adding sugar, you may not need any.  The dressing recipe makes about double of what I actually use, so I just keep it on the counter for another salad later in the week.

You can dress this up by adding fresh fruits like pears or apple, but if you’re making it for a large group on a tight budget, keep it simple!

feta-spinach-salad

Spinach Salad Recipe with Feta and Walnuts

serves 4-6 (with extra dressing)

Ingredients

Dressing:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (cheap kind is fine)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
Salad:
6 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup dried fruit like cranberries or raisins

Instructions

Put vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a bottle and shake well to combine.

Toss spinach with nuts, feta and fruit. Give dressing another shake and drizzle over individual servings.

Approximate cost/serving: By getting nuts and dried fruit in bulk (on sale) I saved quite a bit of money.  The salad came out to just $3.50 (including dressing) so about 58 cents a serving.

Vegetarian/Gluten Free: Yes to both.  To make it vegan you can skip the feta.


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6 Responses to “Spinach Walnut and Feta Salad”

  1. Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie
    January 27, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    You know, I’m a salad fiend, too. I love the stuff. Especially in the late Winter…IDK…maybe it’s my body telling me she’s ready for Spring! :-p The simpler the salad, the better. And I love your creation. Looks healthful and flavorful. Awesome.

  2. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger)
    January 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    I just discovered your blog (and beautiful photos) through foodgawker. I look forward to reading your posts. They look great!
    I love raw spinach and am always looking for new ways to use it. This looks – and sounds – wonderful. I’ve already clipped it and can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

  3. Larry Goodman
    March 28, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    Really excellent! I tried bringing the dressing to a boil and simmering it for a few minutes, then pouring it over the salad and mixing to wilt the spinach slightly. Very good too. Thanks!

  4. Cindy Schwarz
    April 16, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    If you are making this for someone who has Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance DO NOT use bulk bin food items. They are almost always cross contaminated and will make the person sick (found out the hard way)

    • Diana
      April 16, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

      Great point Cindy. Our local health food store has a gluten free bulk bin section in a special sealed off room, but even with that I wonder how controlled it actually is.

  5. Alex Freshwater
    November 26, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Made this the other night to go with grilled chicken. I didn’t have walnuts so substituted a macadamia/cashew blend I had. Also swapped balsamic for apple cider vinegar. As for the dried fruit…I just threw a handful of each of cranberries and sultanas. As this was made for the entire family I left the feta and dressing out. Those that wanted it put it on themselves. My 13yo daughter even made mention “This is a great yummy salad mum” and she had included the feta and dressing. Thank you. Definitely will be making this one again (am a huge fan of spinach)

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