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!
Spinach Salad Recipe with Feta and Walnutsserves 4-6 (with extra 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
6 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup dried fruit like cranberries or raisins
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.