Strawberry Salad with Arugula, Salted Caramel Walnuts, and a spicy honey vinaigrette is a beautifully curated summer berry salad with a little something for all your tastebuds.
How to make a strawberry salad ~
This simple salad succeeds or fails depending on five simple things…
- you’ll need to get your hands on some really fresh arugula, which is lovely and peppery. I got mine at the farmers market, but if you go with the bagged or tubbed supermarket variety, check those dates, don’t settle for the first one in line.
- you want honest to goodness ripe strawberries, which are actually red and sweet (imagine!) Small berries are usually a good choice.
- buy imported sheeps milk feta which doesn’t have the unpleasant sharpness of domestic cow’s milk feta (even if you thought you didn’t like feta you’ll love this creamy version) Look for it in your supermarket, just read the labels.
- source good fresh walnuts, the ones that have been sitting in the cupboard since last January are past it (and probably rancid!) Caramelizing them gives them an incredible crunch and an addictive sweetness.
- and finally make my spicy honey vinaigrette which keeps the salad from being too cutesy, it gives it some ooomph. There’s nothing worse than a berry salad with a sickly sweet dressing (I’m looking at you Panera strawberry salad.)
Strawberries are technically a spring fruit, but I find they just get better and sweeter as the summer goes on, so now’s a great time to put together a simple salad that highlights them. You could sub in blackberries in August, or fresh figs in September.
I decided to make a spicy honey vinaigrette for this summer berry salad, just to keep your tastebuds on their toes 😉
So basically in this salad you’ve got the peppery arugula, the juicy berries, the salty feta, the crunchy caramelized nuts, and a sweet gentle burn from the honey dressing ~ could you ask for more from a salad?
a curated ingredient list
So you can see there’s no need to cram everything but the kitchen sink into a salad ~ this one is satisfying and complex with just a few key players. Full disclosure: I did intend to add some vey fine shreds of red onion, but I forgot. You can use them or not.
More fabulous salads starring fruit ~
- Beet and Blueberry Salad with Labneh
- Pear Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette
- Kale and Fall Fruit Salad with Cider Poppy Seed Dressing
- Fig and Fried Goat Cheese Salad with Nectarine Vinaigrette
- Pink Grapefruit and Watercress Salad
Strawberry Arugula Salad with Salted Caramel Walnuts
- 4 big handfuls of fresh arugula
- fresh strawberries, about 12, hulled and halved
- About 1/2 cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp butter
- 1/4 cup walnut oil or any oil you prefer
- 3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp hot pepper flakes, or use more to your taste
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp Colemans mustard
- salt to taste
- To make the caramel walnuts, put the nuts, sugar, butter, and salt into a small sauté pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until everything melts and coats the walnuts. Turn them out onto parchment or foil to cool.
- Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients into a small jar and use an immersion blender to emulsify into a smooth dressing. You can also do this in a small food processor, or with a whisk, but an immersion blender is perfect. Be sure to taste the dressing to adjust the ingredients to your liking.
- To assemble the salad lay the arugula in a wide shallow salad bowl, and top with the strawberries. Crumble the feta over everything.
- Give the walnuts a rough chop and add them to the salad. Dress, toss, and serve.
Make this strawberry arugula salad your own ~
- This would be really good with some thin strips of grilled chicken added to it.
- Use baby spinach in place of arugula.
- Blackberries or blueberries can sub in for the strawberries. Thin slices of nectarine or peach would be nice.
- Creamy goat cheese or blue cheese will work as well as the feta.
- Toast the walnuts without sugar if you like, but definitely toast them.
- If you’re allergic to nuts, try sunflower seeds.