Berry Spinach Salad with Spicy Maple Sunflower Seeds

On my blog, there aren’t enough straightforward salad recipes. That’s the conclusion I reached after browsing through my own salad archives in search of ideas. Salad meals-in-a-bowl are common, but straightforward side salads are scarce. You know, there are instances when you have to prepare the green salad for a summer gathering and you want to make something special?

Here is my suggestion for a summer side salad. Fresh berries in abundance, chopped spinach, tangy goat cheese, and a zingy balsamic vinaigrette. I used raspberries and blueberries, but chopped strawberries would also be delicious.

You can make a terrific summer side dish by combining all of that with some skillet-toasted, candied maple sunflower seeds. Tossing the dressing with the remaining salad before you’re ready to eat will cause the spinach to wilt pretty quickly because of this.

Good! I’m delighted we filled the vacuum left by the salad for this season. I’m working on some intriguing projects; keep tuned! and a mile-long to-do list, but a side salad is no longer on the list. Please let me know what you think as always, and don’t forget to tag your Instagram pictures with #cookieandkate so I can find them! I enjoy seeing you prepare food!

Also read: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Roasted Summer Vegetables


Sunflower seeds

  • ⅓ cup sunflower seeds (I used raw seeds, roasted are probably fine)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons maple syrup
  • Pinch salt (if your sunflower seeds are unsalted)
  • Dash cayenne, optional (if you like spice)


  • 5 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ cups total raspberries, blueberries and/or chopped strawberries
  • ⅓ cup (about 2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

Balsamic vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. To prepare the sunflower seeds, warm a small non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the sunflower seeds. Let the sunflower seeds warm up a bit, then pour in the maple syrup, a pinch of salt and a tiny dash of cayenne pepper, if desired. Toast the seeds while stirring constantly until most of the maple syrup has evaporated and the sunflower seeds are turning lightly golden on the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a plate to cool.
  2. In a serving bowl, combine the spinach, berries, crumbled goat cheese and sunflower seeds. In a small measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until emulsified.
  3. Just before serving, drizzle in enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves (you might have leftover dressing) and gently toss (careful with those delicate raspberries!). Serve immediately.