Our balsamic strawberry salad features buttery lettuce, mounds of fresh strawberries, cucumber, orange slices, and big chunks of creamy goat cheese to balance it all out. This salad has everything. We even throw on some homemade candied walnuts for crunch (they only take 5 minutes to make).
The quality and cost of balsamic vinegar vary tremendously, so we recommend tasting your vinegar before making the dressing. Aged balsamic vinegar tends to taste more decadent and sweet. If this is what you have on hand, you do not need to add maple syrup to your dressing.
10 ounces mild salad greens like butter lettuce or romaine
2 cups (14 ounces) strawberries, hulled and halved
Half of a large thin-skinned cucumber, sliced
1 orange, peel removed and cut into half-moons
4 ounces (113 grams) creamy goat cheese or feta cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup, optional, see notes
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 cup (85 grams) walnut halves
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch fine sea salt
Heat a wide skillet over medium heat, and then add the walnut halves, maple syrup, pinch of cinnamon and pinch of cayenne. Stir the nuts around the pan for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly toasted, and the maple syrup begins to stick to them.
Slide the nuts onto a plate or piece of parchment paper, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Allow the nuts to cool. If any nuts are stuck together, gently break them apart.
Whisk the balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Continue to whisk while slowly pouring in the olive oil until the dressing thickens. Taste, and then adjust with more salt, pepper, or maple syrup.
Alternatively, place all the dressing ingredients into a jar, close the lid, and shake until thickened.
Divide the lettuce between salad bowls. Scatter the strawberries, cucumber, orange slices, and candied walnuts on top of the lettuce, then break the goat cheese into large crumbles and divide between the salads.
Pour the balsamic dressing over each salad and serve.