A simple spinach salad recipe dressed up with sliced nectarines, sweet candied pecans, and tangy balsamic vinaigrette. This salad goes with everything, is easy to throw together, and gives you a creative way to use gorgeous summer stone fruit!
It’s mid-summer. The blissful long Fourth of July weekend is just a memory. It’s hot, it’s humid, and I can’t stop, won’t stop buying all the nectarines.
Don’t get me wrong – we love peaches, too, and plums are needed for at least one yearly batch of this outrageously sweet, syrupy sauce that manages to be as good on pork chops as it is on ice cream. But it’s the deep yellow nectarines that we plow through faster than fast. They appear in our pancakes, on lunch plates, in desserts. My son asks for one at nearly every meal, and I’m too much of a softy to say no very often. I figure, it’s a nectarine – in the universe of things over which four-year-olds obsess, it could be a lot worse.
Another main feature of this time of year is that cooking just seems like… how to say it… a lot of work. Seeing as I’m not one to spend much time and energy planning or making sides anyway, the dishes that round out our summer plates need to be exceptionally simple, and usually made up of ingredients we have on hand anyway.
On all those accounts, this spinach salad recipe is hands-down, slam-dunk winning the summer. It takes five minutes max, is simple to shop for, and is almost addicting in its flavor combination. I threw it together for the first time about a month ago and immediately knew it was destined for a spot in my starting line-up.
This is the kind of salad you eat happily, that makes you gaze hopefully into the serving bowl to see if there’s a bite left, that makes eating leafy greens more of a treat than a task.
Spinach Salad with Nectarines: Ingredients and Instructions
Alright, let’s go shopping! To make this simple spinach salad, you’ll need the following:
- Baby Spinach: I love keeping washed baby spinach in the fridge because it’s incredibly versatile and lasts a lot longer than most lettuce. For salad recipes like this I usually just eyeball the amount and estimate 2-3 small handfuls per person if serving it as a side.
- Ripe Nectarines: Pitted and cut into slices or chunks. Food52 has a good summary on how to pit nectarines and other stone fruit. I admit I usually struggle with this and wind up bruising the fruit most of the time. We’re just too impatient to let them fully ripen! First world problems, it’s true.
- Candied Pecans: Most grocery stores carry small packages of seasoned pecans with the other nuts or salad fixings. Our favorites come from Trader Joe’s – no surprise there!
- Balsamic Vinaigrette: Another fine example of how easy and rewarding it is to make your own dressing. This one includes olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a small spoonful of mustard. The mustard might seem odd with the sweet nectarines and pecans, but it’s one of those things that just works.
You all know I love a 5-minute salad, because realistically that’s about all the time I can/want to devote to a side dish most nights. So the assembly here is pretty much just that:
- Add spinach, fruit, and pecans to a bowl.
- Whisk together the dressing.
- Pour it on, toss, and serve!
Feel free to customize based on your preferences or what you already have on hand! Just a few ideas:
- Swap the nectarines for peaches, plums, apricots, or another fruit. You could even use dried fruit if those fresh varieties aren’t in season.
- Swap the pecans for almonds, cashews, hazelnuts. Or, if you don’t do nuts, try pepitas or toasted sunflower seeds for a little crunch.
- To make this into a meal, I highly recommend adding a grilled chicken breast or a few slices of pork tenderloin. It would also be tasty with quinoa or lentils for a heartier plant-based option.
More Easy Salad Recipes
- 5-Minute Arugula Parmesan Pine Nut Salad
- Balsamic Spinach Salad with Sea Salt
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Walnuts and Feta
- Easy Greek Salad with Homemade Dressing
If you try making this spinach salad or any other recipe on the blog, please rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!
Spinach Salad with Nectarines and Pecans
For the salad
- 10 ounces fresh baby spinach 2-3 handfuls per person
- 1 large nectarine pitted and sliced
- 1/2 cup candied pecans
For the dressing
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp smooth or whole-grain Dijon mustard
- pinch kosher salt
- a few turns freshly-ground black pepper
- To prepare the dressing, combine all ingredients—olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper—in a mason jar or liquid measuring cup. Shake or whisk until thoroughly-combined. Set aside.
- To assemble the salad, combine spinach, nectarines, and pecans in a large serving bowl. Pour on about half the dressing, and toss to combine. The spinach should be lightly coated. Taste, add more dressing as desired, and serve.
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