Have you ever had a restaurant dish you ordered time and again and craved in between visits? For our founder, Nina, that was a mesclun salad bowl from a cozy little café in downtown Flossmoor, Illinois. Ask That Salad Lady and she’ll tell you it was one of the best salads she’s ever had.
If you’ve ever had a favorite dish, then you know how devastating it would be if the restaurant closed or how intense the cravings could become if you moved away. In this case, both happened. To bring this deliciousness to you, That Salad Lady re-created her own version.
While they topped the salad bowl with nuts, fresh fruit and two lightly battered patties of warmed goat cheese, That Salad Lady maximized the overall nutritional value by introducing other ingredients too. In what would ultimately become our “Salmon Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese Croquettes,” That Salad Lady:
- Used a nut and seed crust to transform the goat cheese patties into nutrient-dense croquettes.
- Added salmon, by far one of the healthiest foods you can put on your plate.
- Substituted the mesclun mix for spinach, an ostentatious superfood with a refreshingly low-key taste profile.
Enhanced with drizzles of strawberry vinaigrette dressing, That Salad Lady’s Salmon Spinach Salad bowl is one of our signature blends. Might sound eccentric and even complicated, but it’s actually super easy to make. You won’t believe how tasty and satisfying it is!
THE BALANCING ACT
Depending on your eating style, you might initially be turned off by the calories per serving of this particular salad bowl recipe (see recipe card). When it comes to judging the healthfulness of foods, we encourage you to focus more on the nutritional value of each ingredient rather than their mere calorie counts. All calories are not created equal (remember this).
While some foods may provide the same number of calories as our salads, the calories themselves may not necessarily have the same effects on your body.
What makes this Salmon Spinach Salad bowl especially powerful is the presence of healthy fats (namely omega-3 fatty acids). From lowering heart disease risk to blood sugar control, these fats come with a lot of health-promoting potential. They also boost the body’s ability to absorb certain vitamins contained in the other ingredients (study up in our Nutrition Glossary to learn more about dietary fat).
With a few tweaks here and there, this salad bowl can be an excellent choice for people following ketogenic diets and most low-carb eating styles. The perfect blend of sweet and tart, creamy and savory, you won’t even believe it’s “just” a salad.
So, what’s in the Salmon Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese Croquettes recipe and why?
Oh So Simple Oven Baked Salmon
You’ve probably already guessed that “salmon” is the first ingredient in this salad bowl recipe. You’ll find a simple seasoning blend for baking it. In terms of which salmon to buy, we recommend Pacific (or wild-caught) varieties. But, if your budget doesn’t allow you to drop an extra $5-10 a pound to go wild don’t worry, farmed-raised salmon can be a healthy, safe and more affordable option.
If you choose to go with wild-caught salmon, sockeye (or red) salmon is a particular great choice. As with all wild-caught varieties, sockeye delivers a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and many other nutrients. The dense, meaty texture and rich, buttery flavor of sockeye salmon is what makes it really stand out in this salad bowl.
Spinach, Spinach and More Spinach
As hinted by the title, we suggest spinach as a base for the Salmon Spinach Salad bowl. Packed with fiber, vitamins and a cocktail of antioxidants, spinach is by far one of the most nutritionally beneficial bases you can use. That Salad Lady recommends filling at least half your bowl with fresh veggies. Since spinach is really the only veggie in this recipe, we say use a whole lot of it.
By itself, spinach is quite bland – it’s virtually tasteless. That’s another reason it makes the perfect base for this particular salad bowl recipe. As all the other ingredients blend into an explosion of different flavors, it’s that blandness of the spinach that balances everything out.
Now, you might recall our mentioning that this recipe was inspired by a “mesclun salad” bowl. The term “mesclun” is basically a fancy word to describe a mixture of baby leafy green veggies. If you’ve ever had spring mix from a package, you’ve essentially had a mesclun mix. As spring mix usually contains some spinach, feel free to use that mix in your fridge if that’s what you have – and before it goes bad. We aim to avoid food waste!
Nut-and-Seed-Crusted Goat Cheese
When goat cheese comes together with salmon and spinach, something pretty amazing happens! It’s no wonder why goat cheese croquettes are the crux of this Salmon Spinach Salad bowl recipe. If you’re not yet a fan of goat cheese, we hope this recipe will convert you. Goat cheese has a tart, earthy flavor that really sets it apart from cow cheeses.
You might be surprised to know that a serving of goat cheese is just a mere ounce – that’s about the size of a ping pong ball. But a little goes a very long way. In fact, that little ounce delivers a lot of probiotics and offers more calcium than a single serving of cow cheese. The recipe calls for coating goat cheese with almonds, pumpkins seeds and flaxseeds. This introduces a whole new layer of savory flavor, texture and nutrition to the salad bowl.
Strawberries and Walnuts for the Win
Choose the reddest, ripest strawberries you can find, as they’ll be the sweetest. Combining the natural sweetness of the strawberries and the light, crunchy texture of the walnuts with the super savory goat cheese croquettes will satisfy just about every food craving.
This recipe is even more (straw)berrylicious when tossed with That Salad Lady’s homemade strawberry vinaigrette dressing. Otherwise, a simple berry-based or balsamic vinaigrette will suffice.
A bit of cooking is required for: (1) salmon, (2) goat cheese and (3) walnuts. But we’re keeping it simple and straightforward here.
The recipe calls for seasoning the salmon with a paprika-based seasoning blend, which’ll add a good spicy zing and plenty of rich, red color to the already red salmon. Once the salmon is all seasoned up, you’ll just pop it in the oven. You can use the cooking and cooling time to prepare the rest of your ingredients.
Then there are the goat cheese croquettes, which will likely be your most labor-intensive step. We suggest using a soft or semi-soft goat cheese for the recipe. All you’ll need to do is crush the almonds and combine them with the pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds. Along with egg, this combination will serve as the batter (or “crust”). From there, it’s just a matter of forming or shaping the croquettes and pan-frying them to a crisp.
And, finally, for yummy, healthy crunch, we recommend cooking or, more specifically, “toasting” the walnuts. All that’s required here is heating up the oven to 350 degrees F and baking the walnuts for 5-10 minutes. That’s it! Doesn’t really get simpler and more straightforward than that.
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
Once all the cooked ingredients are prepared, the hard work is done. If using the strawberry vinaigrette dressing, start by simply adding all the ingredients to your blender or food processor. With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
Whether you use our strawberry vinaigrette or another type of vinaigrette dressing, we recommend tossing your spinach with dressing prior to preparing the salad. In a large bowl, simply coat the spinach with dressing and toss it using salad spoons, tongs or your gloved hands.
From there, divide the spinach evenly between four salad bowls or plates, and top them with the salmon, strawberries, walnuts and goat cheese croquettes. Again, don’t be alarmed by the final calorie tally, as this salad bowl is packed full of “functional foods” (visit our Nutrition Glossary to better understand why this matters).
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
Salmon Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese CroquettesCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Moderate
Low in carbs and packed with fiber, healthy fats and protein, this creamy, sweet and savory salmon spinach salad bowl will satisfy just about every food craving.
- Base Salad Blend
6-8 cups fresh baby spinach*
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup raw walnut halves, toasted**
- Salmon & Seasoning Blend
16 ounces sockeye salmon with skin, cut into two 1/2-inch-thick fillets***
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Goat Cheese Croquettes
4 ounces goat cheese (about the size of 4 ping pong balls), soft or semi-soft
1/4 cup raw almonds, crushed****
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, whole
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
2 whole eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing (Optional)
1 cup strawberries
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Bake the Salmon
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, garlic powder, pepper and salt. This will be the salmon seasoning blend.
- Season the fillets with the seasoning blend and then place them on a non-stick baking sheet, a lightly greased baking pan or a skillet with the skin sides down.
- Bake the fillets uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until they flake easily when tested with a fork and then remove them from the oven.
- Carefully slip a spatula between the fillets and their skins (one at a time), lift them off and transfer them to a plate. The skins will stick and can be discarded later.
- Fry the Croquettes
- Whisk the eggs in a bowl and set them aside.
- Evenly divide the goat cheese into four pieces, roll each piece into a ball and then dip each cheese ball into the beaten eggs.
- In a separate bowl, combine the crushed almonds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds and then season the mixture with salt and pepper. This mixture will serve as a batter (or “crust”).
- One at a time, coat each cheese ball with the seasoned nut and seed crust and then flatten them a bit to form small patties or croquettes.
- Coat a skillet with olive oil, coconut oil or another high-quality oil and set the heat to medium.*****
- Pan-fry the croquettes, flipping them over to cook on both sides, until they are golden brown (about 3-5 minutes).
- Remove the croquettes, place them on paper towels to drain.
- Prepare the Dressing
- If using the strawberry vinaigrette dressing, start by simply adding all the ingredients to your blender or food processor.
- With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
- Our dressing can be substituted for a simple berry-based or balsamic vinaigrette if you wish.
- Build the Salad
- Coat the spinach with dressing and toss it using a pair of salad spoons, tongs or your gloved hands. You can store any extra homemade dressing in a tightly covered container for up to 10 days.
- Divide the spinach evenly between four salad bowls or plates, and top them with the salmon, sliced strawberries, walnuts and goat cheese croquettes.
- *A 50/50 mix (baby spinach and spring mix) or any other mesclun blend can be used instead of spinach.
- **Toast walnuts by simply baking them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Check the walnuts frequently as they burn easily and quickly.
- ***Sockeye salmon fillets can be easily replaced with any other wild-caught salmon or farm-raised salmon fillets.
- ****You can crush almonds using a blender or a food processor. You can also purchase roasted and chopped almonds to save some time.
- *****We recommend pan-frying just prior to building the salad, as the goat cheese croquettes are best served warm.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.