Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad made with crisp apples, dried bing cherries, shallots and walnuts, and an easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette. A simple salad for meal prep or holiday gatherings.
I’m a firm believer that salads can be enjoyed all year round, especially when they’re layered with flavor and seasonal produce. While fall and winter bring on cravings for warm, cozy food, having a fresh salad as a side or as a stand-alone meal is a great way to balance out a meal and get in those greens!
Apple Walnut Spinach Salad
This apple walnut spinach salad is full of flavor and incredibly easy to make with only 6 main ingredients. There’s no roasting or sauteing, so the salad comes together quickly with just a little chopping required. The fresh spinach and arugula make for a mild but flavorful salad base. For flavor and crunch, sliced apples, shallots, dried bing cherries and walnuts top the salad. This seasonal salad gets topped with a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Although, I totally get if you want to take a shortcut and use quality store-bought balsamic dressing instead.
Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
While you may be inclined to use store-bought balsamic dressing, I highly recommend giving this homemade balsamic dressing at least. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to make. Plus, it’s delicious! It’s made with 5 simple ingredients (plus salt and pepper) that get whirled up in a blender. This creates a smooth, creamy dressing with no separation.
Most store-bought dressings are full of added sugar, inflammatory oils or chemical fillers and preservatives to make them flavorful and self-care. Thankfully, there are a few quality store-bought dressings like Primal Kitchen, The New Primal, Tessamae’s and Bragg’s. When looking for store-bought salad dressings, read the label. It’s best to avoid dressings with canola oil, soybean oil, sugar as the first ingredient, and other ingredients you can’t find in your own pantry.
NOURISHED BY NUTRITION FACTS:
Spinach – this dark leafy green is extremely nutritious and versatile thanks to its mild flavor. Spinach is a good source of insoluble fiber that helps support healthy digestion. It’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, iron, and calcium. It’s also rich in phytonutrients that act as antioxidants and have been shown to help reduce oxidative stress, promote eye health, fight cancer, and regulate blood pressure.
Walnuts – This is the powerhouse of nuts. Walnuts are incredibly nutritious, often being referred to as “brain food” due to the fact they are high in omega-3s. Their high content of ALA, a plant-based omega-3, has been shown to improve brain health, prevent heart disease and cancer. Walnuts are also full of disease-fighting antioxidants and are a convenient source of protein, fiber magnesium and phosphorus. All of which are needed for optimal wellness.
Healthy fats – I’m guilty of fearing healthy fats and only using fat-free salad dressing. Healthy fats are essential and shouldn’t be feared. They’re so important for hormone health, healthy skin and hair and stabilizing our blood sugar. The balsamic vinaigrette is made with extra virgin olive oil. This healthy fat is rich in monounsaturated fats which are known to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Healthy fats are also necessary for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K and antioxidants.
IF YOU LOVE THIS apple walnut spinach salad, YOU’LL ALSO ENJOY THESE RECIPES:
- Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing
- Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranate (coming soon)
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprout Salad
- Winter Citrus Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
- Winter Beet and Pomegranate Salad with Maple Candied Pecans – Half Baked Harvest
Apple Walnut Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad made with crisp apples, dried cranberries, shallots and walnuts and an easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
- Prep Time: 10
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
For the Salad:
4 cups spinach
2 cups arugula
1 apple (Honeycrisp, Gala, Pink Lady)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/3 cup dried Bing cherries, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
For the Balsamic Vinaigrette:
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2–4 tablespoons filtered water, to thin (optional)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
For the Salad:Place the spinach and arugula in a large bowl or serving platter. Using a sharp knife, core and chop the apple into thin slices. Using the same knife or a mandolin, slice the shallot very finely. Add the sliced apple shallots to the serving bowl. Cut the dried bing cherries in half or thirds with clean kitchen scissors or slice with a sharp knife. Add the sliced dried bing cherries and walnuts to the salad. Finish with fresh cracked black pepper.
Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and toss. This salad is best served right away but can be kept in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
For the Balsamic Vinaigrette: Add all the dressing ingredients except the water to a blender. Blend together until completely smooth. Add water to thin to desired consistency. The dressing makes about 2 cups. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
If making the salad ahead of time, toss the sliced apples with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice before assembling the salad. This will help prevent them from browning.