The Most Flavorful Spinach Salad Ever

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To write this article, I was trying to think back to a month ago when we ate this salad, on a night when I’m almost sure there was still snow on the ground.

Top down view of a large white ceramic bowl of spinach salad with scattered leaves of spinach, a white ramekin of red pickled grapes, a smaller bowl of salad, two forks, and a white cloth on a blue wooden background.

I guess there must have been, since that was the night my friend Jackie came over for dinner, and she had to grip the stair railings to keep from falling on the ice on her way inside.

But listen to this: Tonight I drove home with the windows open, the sun beating down on me, and I was actually sweating, if you can believe that. All around me, the grass outside is totally green, there are flowers budding that look like little lumps of cotton, and the skies are the perfect shade of blue.

Closeup of a white bowl of spinach salad with apples, goat cheese, prosciutto, and pickled grapes, with wooden serving utensils.

It is really spring here. Finally. And honestly, I’ve almost forgotten winter entirely.

I think there can be a lot of value in forgetting. I mean, it’s not good to forget the story your friend told you yesterday at lunch, but it’s pretty great if you can forget the obnoxious thing that guy said to you at work. And at this time of year, I am all for forgetting: forgetting the ice, the snow, the cold, and the painful commutes.

Now that spring is here, it’s time to start eating like it. And that’s where this salad comes in.

Springtime Goodness

At its heart, this is a pretty basic dish: just some spinach tossed with sliced apples, crumbled goat cheese, crispy prosciutto, and pickled grapes. But the taste is anything but basic.

The pickled grapes are super simple to make and can be catered to any taste. All you need is vinegar, sugar, and your choice of spices. I opted for cloves and black peppercorns.

Boil the vinegar and spices together, then pour over the grapes and refrigerate. It’s as simple as that. YUM..

But it’s the dressing that really takes it over the top: a combination of olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, freshly ground pepper and spicy brown mustard, this topping is sweet and tangy, absolutely perfect as it blends with the acid of the fruits and the texture of the spinach.

Top down view of a bowl of spinach salad with red pickled grapes, crumbled chèvre, crispy prosciutto bits, and sliced apple, next to a bowl of red grapes and a white cloth topped with two silver forks, on a blue wooden background, with a larger bowl of salad visible towards the top left edge of the frame.

This weekend, if the weather is finally starting to warm up where you are, take this opportunity to sit outside, soak up some rays, and eat a big bowlful of this healthy salad that’s packed with antioxidants.

It’s the just the thing to make you forget about anything that isn’t fresh and fragrant, perfectly green, and filled with sunshine.

Because this lunch or side is so easy to put together, you can take the measurements in the recipe as guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. You can feel free to eyeball it according to your taste preferences and what’s in your fridge.

A variety of different nuts or fruits could work here, or you could try swapping out the soft chevre with a pungent hard cheese like parmesan or asiago, shaved on top with your microplane.

The Recipe

Square top down image of spinach salad in a white bowl with crumbled goat cheese, sliced apple, pickled grapes, crispy prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar dressing, on a blue wooden background with a white cloth napkin, wooden serving utensils, and a glass bowl of dressing.
Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Pickled Grapes, and Crispy Prosciutto
Votes: 3
Rating: 5
You: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A true flavor explosion, this spinach salad with pickled grapes, prosciutto, and chevre is the antithesis of a boring lunch.
Servings Prep Time
3 to 4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
3 to 4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 1 hour
Square top down image of spinach salad in a white bowl with crumbled goat cheese, sliced apple, pickled grapes, crispy prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar dressing, on a blue wooden background with a white cloth napkin, wooden serving utensils, and a glass bowl of dressing.
Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Pickled Grapes, and Crispy Prosciutto
Votes: 3
Rating: 5
You: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A true flavor explosion, this spinach salad with pickled grapes, prosciutto, and chevre is the antithesis of a boring lunch.
Servings Prep Time
3 to 4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
3 to 4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 1 hour
Ingredients
For the Pickled Grapes:
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups red grapes
For the Salad:
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 apple sliced thin
  • 1 cup pickled grapes
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 slices prosciutto
For the Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 3 teaspoons Spicy brown mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
Servings: to 4 servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. First, make the pickled grapes. Combine the vinegar, sugar, cloves, peppercorns, salt, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool briefly, then place in an airtight container with the pickling liquid and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Combine the spinach, sliced apples, drained pickled grapes, goat cheese, and crispy prosciutto in a bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing except the oil and whisk to combine. Pour the oil into the mixture in a thin stream while whisking vigorously to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Just before serving, pour the dressing on top of the salad, toss to coat, and garnish with goat cheese and crispy prosciutto.
Recipe Notes

Recipe by Leslie Morrison. Recipe for pickled grapes adapted from Cooking Light.

Nutritional Info*

Nutrition Facts
Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Pickled Grapes, and Crispy Prosciutto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 551 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 52%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 23g
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 468mg 20%
Potassium 113mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 51g 17%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 44g
Protein 9g 18%
Vitamin A 64%
Vitamin C 54%
Calcium 7%
Iron 15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Mise en Place

Gather all ingredients, including those for the dressing.

Using a salad spinner or a sterilized sink and a colander, wash your spinach thoroughly, being sure to remove any debris that may be on the leaves. The bagged variety is okay, but we still recommend washing it. Remove any thick stems and set the cleaned spinach aside.

Top down view of a metal tray topped with large leaves of fresh spinach, and small glass and white porcelain bowls and ramekins of sliced apple, crumbled goat cheese, pickled grapes, and strips of prosciutto.

Wash your apple and slice the fruit into thin half-moons. Set aside.

Measure out your prosciutto and your chevre goat cheese crumbles and set aside. Note that you may opt to use more if you choose. If you are a cheese lover, feel free to load it up!

Top down view of ingredients for salad dressing measured own in small glass bowls on a metal tray topped with a white cloth, including mustard, oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, and oil, with a metal whisk, on a blue wooden background.

Measure the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and spicy brown mustard. You can use any type of mustard that you like here. I chose spicy because it is what I like most.

Finally, grab your salt and pepper grinders. Freshly ground seasonings add the most flavor, so I always opt to do this when I can.

Step 2 – Make the Pickled Grapes and Crispy Prosciutto

If you opt to make your own pickled grapes, do that now as they need to sit for at least one hour before adding them to your salad.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, cloves, peppercorns, salt, and cinnamon in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes.

Add the grapes to a large airtight container and pour the pickling liquid over them. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

You may also be able to find pickled grapes at your local farmers market or specialty store. Either packaged or homemade is fine to use for this salad, whichever you prefer.

Top down view of a large nonstick frying pan filled with strips of crispy fried prosciutto, with an orange rubber spatula with a wooden handle resting on the rim of the pan, on a blue wooden background topped with a white cloth napkin.

Cut your prosciutto into thin strips and fry it in a medium pan over medium heat, the same way you would fry bacon. Be careful not to burn the meat, and adjust the heat if you need to. This should take about 5 minutes or so in a preheated pan.

Once crisped, remove from the pan and set aside to drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Step 3 – Make the Dressing

Add the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, honey, and mustard to a bowl. Using a balloon whisk, combine the ingredients. Then, add the olive oil in a thin stream while whisking and continue to combine until an emulsion is formed.

Top down view of a metal tray topped with glass bowls of vinegar, oil, mustard, and balsamic vinegar to make salad dressing, with a whisk and a white cloth, on a blue stained wooden background.

How do you know when this has happened, you might ask? Well, when all of the ingredients are completely combined with no floating pools of oil or obvious separation between the oil and vinegar, you are done whisking.

The mustard helps to form the emulsion. Adding a dab of mayonnaise can also help to bring a salad dressing together. The final result will be thickened and creamy.

Step 4 – Assemble the Salad

In a large serving bowl, lightly toss the spinach, apples, and pickled grapes with the dressing.

Now, garnish with the goat cheese and crispy prosciutto.

Top down view of a large white bowl of spinach salad with apples, prosciutto, goat cheese crumbles and red grapes, with a smaller bowl of salad to the right, a small white ramekin of pickled grapes, the handles of brown wooden serving utensils, and a few leaves of spinach, with a white cloth and two silver forks on a blue wooden background.

If you would like to serve your salad buffet style so each diner can make their own according to their likes and dislikes, you can place each ingredient in its own bowl instead, with the dressing on the side or with the spinach already tossed in the dressing.

A Satisfying and Healthy Bowlful

Finally, it’s time to eat!

Serve this salad as a light and flavorful lunch, or a quick and easy dinner.

Need a bit more protein? Cubed chicken breast would be a wonderful addition to this salad, especially if you are opting for the dinner option.

Want something a little more savory or some added crunch? Toss in some sliced red onion.

I have to admit, this is a new favorite for me. Such robust flavors paired with amazing nutrition profiles? I’m hooked.

Vertical image of a white bowl of spinach salad with goat cheese, prosciutto, grapes, and apples with a fork stuck into the bowl, with a larger white bowl of salad in the background.

Did you serve this salad alone? Pair it with a meal? Did you add a protein or tweak the ingredients? Let us know in the the comments below!

And if you’re looking for more ideas to brighten up your springtime menu, try this kale fiesta salad, our classic Greek salad, or a fresh kale grapefruit salad. You can also find all of our salad recipes here.


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of a spinach salad recipe.

Photos by Leslie Morrison, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. With additional writing by Leslie Morrison. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on April 16th, 2009. Last updated: May 22, 2018 at 23:37 pm.

*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.

10 thoughts on “The Most Flavorful Spinach Salad Ever

  1. yes, lets start eating like it! i agree and can’t wait for the days when we are all at the market buying stuff for salads…

  2. Lunch in the bottom of the Supreme Court building wasn’t too bad–probably not a big hotspot, but fun to eat there. 🙂

  3. I can’t wait to try this dressing out.

    There is a restaurant in Dupont Circle called Obelisk. It is a small price fixed menu that changes constantly based on what the chef finds at the markets. If you can get a reservation, you should check it out.

  4. Ha, I moved from Chicago to Houston 10 years ago, now when its in the 70s we pull on a light sweater or jacket cause its chilly!

  5. Have fun in DC! Whether is perfect here now. I’d say check out Tabard Inn for brunch. Get the homemade donuts. Don’t try to go to Ben’s Chili Bowl unless you go at a weird time. There has been a line around the block ever since Barack dined there…

    -Nick

  6. Update on the weather situation—no sunshine but rain, lots of rain! I’ll take it. Especially when I know what it brings. Thanks everyone for the hopeful comments and well wishes about D.C. I am so excited for a three-day work week, that’s for sure!

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