Spinach Caprese Salad with Strawberries is a simple but spectacular dish packed with bright summer flavors. It is made with tender baby spinach, ripe cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese balls, fresh basil and juicy strawberries.
Is there anything better than a fresh Caprese salad with a crusty baguette on a lazy summer night when you don’t feel like cooking? Thick-sliced sun-ripened tomatoes, creamy mozzarella slices, fragrant basil leaves all combined on a platter with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and thick balsamic reduction is an essential summer dinner at my house as soon as the tomatoes in my garden are abundant.
Since it’s not quite tomato season yet here in Maine, I wanted to create a different version of the classic Caprese salad that uses what’s ripe and juicy right now – strawberries. The effect is a wonderful combination of flavors and textures in an unexpected but absolutely delicious spinach-based salad. Give it a try and dazzle your guests with this dish at your next cookout. It looks fabulous and tastes even better!
- Baby Spinach: you can never have enough spinach in your diet! You can also use arugula or arugula-spinach mix.
- Strawberries: they will taste best in the summer when they’re in season.
- Cherry Tomatoes: sweeter than regular tomatoes, they work very well in this salad.
- Mozzarella Pearls: usually packed in water, find them near regular fresh mozzarella at most grocery stores. I usually get Del Gioiso. The pearls come packed in water or vacuum packed without the liquid. Both versions are fine.
- Basil Leaves: you can’t have Caprese salad without fresh basil!
- Olive Oil: use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.
- Balsamic Reduction (Glaze): you can make your own reduction (see how to make it below) or use a store bought balsamic glaze. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s.
How to make spinach Caprese salad with strawberries
STEP 1: Chop the spinach into bite size pieces.
STEP 2: Arrange cherry tomatoes and strawberries on top of chopped spinach.
STEP 3: Drain the mozzarella pearls and spread around the salad.
STEP 4: Tuck fresh basil leaves between strawberries and tomatoes, distributing evenly.
STEP 5: Drizzle the salad with olive oil and finish with balsamic reduction or glaze.
STEP 6: Serve and enjoy!
How to make balsamic reduction at home
All you need is balsamic vinegar and a small pot. The best vinegar to use is Aceto Balsamico di Modena (balsamic vinegar from the Modena region). Simply pour 1 cup of balsamic vinegar into the pot, bring to boil, then reduce the temperature and simmer for about 15 minutes. You should reduce the amount to ½ cup or less to make sure it’s nice and thick. Cool completely before using (it will thicken more as it cools).
Make ahead and meal prep tips
You can make this salad ahead by arranging the greens, tomatoes, strawberries, mozzarella and basil leaves on a platter or in a bowl and place in the fridge until ready to serve. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic reduction right before serving. For meal prep, divide the undressed salad between airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Dress with oil and vinegar when serving.
Variations and substitutions
As with most salads, there is no right or wrong way to make this one. Make it your own taking what you already have in your pantry, or what’s in season in your garden (or at the farmers market) right now. Here are some ideas to inspire you:
- If you are not a fan of tomatoes, just add more strawberries and skip tomatoes all together.
- Add blueberries instead of strawberries. I’ve made this version of Caprese salad for Memorial Day or 4th of July because of its red, white and blue color scheme.
- Swap the spinach for baby arugula or use a spinach-arugula mix.
- Sweet and juicy peaches are another great replacement for strawberries, especially when they are in season. Peaches taste amazing drizzled with balsamic reduction!
- If you don’t have mozzarella pearls, you can use feta cheese or crumbled goat cheese. It won’t taste like a classic Caprese anymore but both feta and goat cheese will taste great when paired with strawberries and cherry tomatoes.
- Having a hard time finding mozzarella pearls? Just chop up regular mozzarella cheese ball into bite size pieces.
- If you don’t have fresh basil, swap it for fresh mint.
- Add nuts for an extra protein boost and a nice crunch. I recommend chopped walnuts or pecans, or sliced almonds. Pine nuts (which are actually seeds) or sunflower seeds will also work.
- Add cooked chicken breast if you’re looking to make this into a more substantial dinner salad.
What to serve strawberry Caprese salad with
This is a versatile salad that can be served on its own with a side of crusty bread to scoop up all the delicious oil and vinegar. If you want to make it into a full meal with some extra protein, add some sliced chicken breast, grilled shrimp or chopped nuts.
It will also work well as a side dish with any grilled meat or fish. Pair it with my Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto for a wonderful Mediterranean dinner.
If you love the Caprese flavors, make sure to also check out my Chicken Caprese Sheet Pan Dinner .
More summer salads
- Spinach Strawberry Salad with Feta Cheese
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Peach, Bacon and Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese
- Kale and Barley Salad Bowl with Salmon
- Cajun Shrimp Salad
- Apple Gorgonzola Salad
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Spinach Caprese Salad with Strawberries
- 3 oz baby spinach
- 12 oz fresh strawberries halved or quartered
- 6 oz cherry tomatoes halved
- 6 oz mozzarella pearls drained
- 16 fresh basil leaves
- ⅓ - ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic reduction glaze for drizzling
- Chop baby spinach roughly into bite size pieces and transfer to a bowl or a platter.
- Arrange strawberries, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls and basil leaves on top of the spinach.
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic reduction.
- Serve and enjoy!
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