Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet and Spicy Walnuts

strawberry spinach salad recipe with sweet and spicy walnuts, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

How was your 4th of July? Full of good food, fire works and festivities, I hope? In keeping with tradition, I spent the day with my family at a tiny lake outside of small town Stillwater, Oklahoma. It is a classic all-American celebration, complete with a horseshoe tournament, egg toss, and three-legged race, which are enjoyed by barefoot, grinning little kids and adults alike.

Like most Americans, I overindulged in potato chips and beer yesterday, so today seems prime for sharing a delightful, guilt-free summer salad. Simple and sweet, it’s easy to toss together in just a few minutes. The toasted walnuts really send it over the top!

sweet and spicy walnuts recipe with maple syrup and cayenne pepper

Sweet and Spicy Walnuts
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ground sea salt to taste
  1. Cook nuts in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until they are lightly toasted and fragrant. Add butter. Stir until the better has melted and coated the nuts. Stir in the maple syrup, cayenne, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring, until the liquid has evaporated and the nuts are well coated. This should only take a couple of minutes. Be sure to remove from heat the second the liquid seems to have cooked down, because the mixture will burn quickly. Pour the walnuts onto a plate or into a bowl and allow to cool before tossing them on your salad.
  • Adapted from Care2.
  • This yields enough walnuts for at least two salads, but you can easily double or triple the recipe and store the nuts in a covered container for later. One cup of walnuts may seem like plenty, but I scarfed them all down within 24 hours. Oops!

To assemble the salad, toss fresh spinach with a drizzle of balsamic oil and olive oil. Add sliced strawberries, crumbled goat cheese and sweet and spicy walnuts. Note that both spinach and strawberries are on the “dirty dozen” list for pesticide contamination, so buy organic if you can.


  1. says

    I love spinach salads! I made a red, white and blue one that had blueberries, strawberries and feta with Brianna’s Strawberry Vinaigrette. I think that dressing would go great with this salad too. I like your idea of spicing up the walnuts since I’m a fan of adding them to salads but usually just toast them and call it good. Your 4th of July sounds like fun!

  2. says

    sounds like u had a great 4th of july celebration! what a delicious salad! it’s hard to get organic strawbs or spinach around where i live…mb i should grow them on my balcony!

  3. says

    I’ve yet to try strawberries in a salad and guess what I think your recipe will be the one to try.
    I can really see myself tucking into it and enjoying every mouthful, thanks so much for sharing.

  4. says

    I made a similar salad – which I found to be delicious. Basically, used mixed greens and added candied pecans, sliced strawberries and feta cheese. Then i topped it off with an organic raspberry dressing. I’m not a big fan of fruit on my salad but I approve this salad combo.

  5. Caitlin says

    I make a new salad each week for lunch and eat it the entire week, this is the salad I’m eating this week. Just made the walnuts and my house smells fantastic!! I had to stop myself from nibbling on them so as to actually have some to put on the salad.

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