I love the time of year when gardens are starting to produce and farmer’s markets have fresh greens for salads. Big salads are my go-to lunch and often my go-to dinner with a glass of kombucha or iced herbal tea on the side.
And guess what… adding berries is a sure way to get my kids excited about salad!
How to Make the Perfect Spring Salad
This salad was inspired by the freshness of the greens and strawberries of spring and early summer. Here’s how we make it:
First: Baby Greens, Strawberries, and Goat Cheese
For the base of this salad I like to use mixed baby greens, but I’ll also use spinach, romaine, or other lettuces if it’s what I have on hand. Then, I toss in some toasted pecans and dried cranberries. Next, I slice some strawberries to put on top and dot the salad with goat cheese. You could also use blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, or a mix of berries that are in season.
Yup, that’s right. Goat cheese. It seems to be a very polarizing cheese. Some love it and others won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole! If you like, omit the cheese or use one that you like in its place. Feta, gorgonzola, and bleu cheese are all great.
Sometimes I make this salad ahead of time (sans dressing) and then stick it in the fridge until dinner.
Second: Honey Mustard Dressing (or Dressing of Choice)
I use a honey mustard dressing for the spring salad. The sweet tanginess goes perfectly with the fruit and creamy goat cheese and the homemade chicken strips that go on top.
I prefer to avoid a lot of the ingredients in store-bought honey mustard dressing, so I just make my own. I use simple identifiable ingredients and use it as a dressing or dipping sauce. It’s my kids’ favorite condiment for dipping.
The dressing can also be made in advance and refrigerated. Usually, I already have some in the fridge that’s leftover from another meal, which makes making this salad even simpler.
Last Step (Optional): Almond Flour Breaded Chicken Strips
If I’m serving this as a meal, the last thing I do is to make my almond flour breaded chicken strips to top the salad. They’re delicious, grain-free, and everyone in the family loves them. I usually pan fry them on the stove, but you can also drizzle them with oil and bake in the oven.
This berry salad also works great as a side salad without chicken.
Mix It Up!
I serve this salad often, so I change up the dressings or ingredients to keep it interesting. Here are some substitutions we love:
Goat cheese is our favorite, but try these variations:
- Bleu Cheese
- Smoked Gouda
- Dairy-free option – sub avocado
Any seasonal berries will work!
- Diced apples
- Chopped dates or figs
- Sliced almonds (drizzle with maple syrup and a pinch of salt before toasting)
- Pine nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Hemp hearts
All of these dressings are delicious on this salad! When I don’t make them from scratch, I buy them from Primal Kitchen.
Spring Salad With Berries
- Cook the chicken strips according to the recipe instructions and set aside.
- Prepare the honey mustard dressing according to the recipe instructions and set aside.
- Preheat a small skillet over medium heat on the stove.
- Add the pecans and toast, tossing occasionally, until they have just started to brown and smell amazing.
- Set the pecans aside until cooled.
- Put two big handfuls of lettuce/greens on each plate.
- Chop the chicken and top each salad with equal amounts of goat cheese, toasted pecans, cranberries, sliced strawberries, and dressing.
More Spring Recipes to Try!
- 5 Fresh Spring Salad Recipes
- How to Make a Mason Jar Salad Bar (That Lasts All Week!)
- Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie (With a Secret Ingredient)
- Crispy Baked Kale Chips Recipe
What is your favorite salad? Do you have a variation of this one? Let me know below!