Spinach salads may make you think of a health food craze lacking in flavor or creativity. But they can be so much more than that—the earthy, slightly bitter taste of spinach can add oomph to any salads. I’m here to give you 15 delicious ideas for not just eating spinach, but actually enjoying it! Some recipes let you be in the driver’s seat, picking and choosing between feta cheese or goat cheese, bacon or grilled chicken, and balsamic vinaigrette or champagne vinaigrette. Others are more like a GPS, telling you exactly which way to go for the best result. Whether you’re the type of person who wants to see where the wind will take you or you prefer a little more direction, we have spinach salad recipes that will satisfy everyone.
1. Melon, Bacon and Spinach Salad with a Melon Vinaigrette
This colorful spinach salad has a little bit of everything. Funky blue cheese, sweet cantaloupe, thinly sliced red onion, crispy bacon, and a fruity salad dressing for a lovely summer side dish or main course.
2. Rice Noodle Salad with Spring Vegetables and Tahini-Lime Dressing
Rice noodles are a beautiful blank canvas for so many flavors, but recipe developer Elizabeth Stark’s spicy tahini dressing with lime and fish sauce is up there with the greats. In addition to the dressing, the noodles are tossed with shiitake mushrooms, spinach, and fresh green herbs.
3. Warm Salmon and Lentil Salad with Herbes de Provence
Looking for a heartier spinach salad that you can have for a main course lunch or dinner? This nourishing combination of wild-caught salmon, green lentils, baby spinach, and nuts is a protein-packed winner.
4. Strawberry and Ricotta Salad
Spinach and strawberries are a classic combination of ingredients for a salad that balances the sweetness of berries and the sharp, slightly bitter flavor of the greens. Although this recipe calls for baby arugula, feel free to swap baby spinach in place and dress it all in an elegant champagne vinaigrette.
5. Molly Wizenberg & Brandon Pettit’s Red Wine Vinaigrette
There’s both red wine vinegar and actual red wine in this dressing that pairs so well with a strawberry spinach salad. Using both ingredients is chef Brandon Pettit’s trick for making the vinaigrette just a touch fancier.
6. Wilted Spinach Salad With Balsamic Caramelized Red Onions
Recipe developer coffeefoodwrite has taken this savory spinach salad with bacon on a lighter spin by cutting out the crispy pork and substituting it with caramelized onions. A drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and pepper are the only additional ingredients you need to build flavor.
7. Salad Dressing
Take any spinach salad to the next level by skipping bottled salad dressing and making your own at home. This one is made with two kinds of balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and one unexpected ingredient: Worcestershire sauce.
8. Peter Miller’s Lentils Folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil
Recipe developer Peter Miller calls this lentil and spinach dish a “nod to pesto and a salute to yogurt.” And he offers two different versions based on whether you’re cooking at home or bringing it to the office.
9. Spinach Bacon Salad
You won’t find bacon crumbled atop the salad, but rather in the form of a bacon dressing, which is drizzled over spinach, button mushrooms, and hard-boiled eggs.
10. Sushi Salad
Inspired by the flavors and ingredients found in everyone’s favorite one-bite meal, this brown rice salad features avocado, edamame, crispy seaweed, and baby spinach, all of which are tossed in a sesame-miso dressing.
11. Zuni-Inspired Grilled Chicken Salad
Our all-time favorite grilled chicken salad couldn’t be simpler or more delicious. Just grill chicken breasts until they’re cooked through, slice ’em, mix ’em with a lemony aioli, and serve with baby spinach.
12. Moro’s Chickpeas and Spinach (Garbanzos con Espinacas)
Okay, it’s not exactly a spinach salad, but it’s just as healthy and filling, so you can certainly treat it like one. The concept is simple—chickpeas and sautèed spinach. But when cooked in olive oil, garlic, cumin, oregano, and chile powder, the dish becomes totally new and exciting once again.
13. Tadka Salad Dressing
If you’re feeling bored and uninspired by another basic spinach salad, whip up this flavorful salad dressing with black mustard seeds, tahini, lime juice, Dijon mustard, and honey. Toss it with the greens, plus maybe some mandarin oranges, toasted almonds, and goat cheese, and suddenly, it’s not so bland.
14. Buffalo Chickpea Salad With Vegan Ranch
Grant Melton challenged himself to create a salad that would be delicious, hearty enough to be a meal and surprisingly vegan. He far exceeded his—and our!—expectations.
15. Make-Your-Own Spring Chopped Salad
Consider this spinach salad recipe a lesson in choosing your own adventure. Start with your favorite greens and herbs, add some blanched veggies, legumes, meat and cheese, dried cranberries or raisins, and dig in.
Which spinach salad are you going to make first? Let us know in the comments below!