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Strawberry Balsamic Salad

This Strawberry Balsamic Salad is the perfect gluten-free side dish to serve at your next gluten-free dinner party. (And before you ask, yes, strawberries are gluten-free)

The first thing I think people want to make with strawberries is a smoothie, second would be a dessert and everyone forgets that strawberries are delicious in salads.

Salads in general tend to be savory and I know there is a large debate on if sweet things should be added to salads. As a salty and savory lover myself, I say 100% sweet things like fruit and candied nuts belong in salads!

Why? Just like in this Strawberry Balsamic Salad, the sweet ingredients highlight the savory beautifully.

Strawberry Balsamic Salad (gluten-free with vegan options) - Tayler Silfverduk, celiac dietitian

Making the Perfect Salad...

As a registered dietitian, I think everyone expects me to recommend them to eat salads with plain lettuce and vegetables. But the perfect salad has a combination of delicious ingredients that make your tastebuds happy and keep you full.

In the case of this Strawberry Balsamic Salad, I’ve got fruit, lettuce, vegetables, pickles, cheese (if you don’t need this to be vegan), and a balsamic dressing to pull it all together. The carbs and fiber from the lettuce, fruit and vegetables with give you energy and support digestion.

Not to mention the fruit soaking in the balsamic dressing will give the dressing a bit more sweetness to share with the rest of the ingredients. Additionally the cheese (which you could substitute with avocado) and the balsamic dressing adds fat to keep you full and slow digestion so you’re not hungry in 30 minutes.

And the pickles add lots of flavor. If you’re not a fan of pickled cucumber you could also use pickled banana peppers, quick pickled carrots, or pickled red onions for a pop of color.

Strawberry Balsamic Salad (gluten-free with vegan options) with orange, romaine lettuce, pickles and more - Tayler Silfverduk, celiac dietitian

Make this Strawberry Balsamic Salad Yours...

Right now this Strawberry Balsamic Salad is built to be a filling side or appetizer to an entree. That said, there are a lot of small changes you can make to adjust the recipe to your liking or to make it a meal.

  • Add in fresh orange slices (as pictured above) to make it a strawberry citrus salad.
  • Use kale instead of romaine for more texture and antioxidants.
  • Add a serving of grilled or baked chicken breast for protein to make this a meal.
  • Add in cooked quinoa for protein and gluten-free whole grains to make it a meal.
  • Make it vegan by substituting the cheese for nutritional yeast for cheese flavor, avocado for fat, or more pickled vegetables for flavor.
  • Before preparing the salad for serving, season the vegetables in the salad bowl and let them soak in the seasoning for about 15 minutes
  • Serve it as is as a side dish to a one-pot chicken and rice dish or a sheet pan chicken and vegetable dish.
  • Add some nuts and seeds on top for more fat and protein to make it more filling.

Strawberry Balsamic Salad

Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Salad, Salads, side dish
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, nightshade free, Picnic
Servings: 4
Calories: 222kcal

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 1-2 head romaine, washed and chopped
  • 2 carrots, washed and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pickle spears, chopped

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup (can use honey but doesn't mix as well)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard (to emulsify the dressing, can use 3 tbsp tahini instead)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large salad serving bowl, toss the lettuce, carrots, celery, strawberries, cheese, and pickles together.
  • I like to salt the vegetables at this step to build flavor but you scan skip this if you like
  • In a small bowl combine the salad dressing ingredients and while until well-combined and the dressing holds together (you may need to add more dijon or tahini if it's not holding)
  • When ready to serve, drizzle half the dressing on top of the salad and toss to cover
  • Then pour the rest of the dressing into a bottle to serve with as desired at the table
  • Enjoy!

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