This Spinach Salad with Pine Nut Dressing is an excellent side dish to have in your recipe files. Why? Well, because sometimes you need an uncomplicated dish to pair with a more complex main dish – one that will add color and flavor to the plate, but not compete with the star. This spinach salad does all that, plus it’s quick and easy to prepare. And, the Lemon Dressing is bright and fresh, with an unusual ingredient!

blue plate holding a serving of Easy Spinach Salad with wine glasses, forks and plates in the background

Why an Easy Spinach Salad Recipe is the Perfect Complement

I love salads as part of a meal – they can be a starter(served before the main meal), side dish (with the main dish) or even the main event. As a side dish, they should provide flavor that pairs well with the main and add both color and texture. They shouldn’t compete, but complement.

Sometimes it can be tricky to find a side salad to serve with a more complex main dish. I think that must be why my mom created this Spinach Salad Recipe. It’s so simple that it pairs with almost anything, but still has bright lemony flavor, pretty green color and crunchy texture.

Baby Spinach Salad Ingredients

Here’s all you need to make this quick and easy side salad:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh or dried tarragon – can also add/substitute fresh parsley or basil
  • Toasted pine nuts – can also use toasted chopped pecans, walnuts or pistachios
  • Baby spinach
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

While just these ingredients alone combine to make a fabulous salad dressing, for fun you could add in a bit of Dijon mustard, thinly sliced shallots, bacon bits and/or crumbled feta or goat cheese.

Overhead shot of a plate holding a serving of Easy Spinach Salad with Lemon Dressing on the side

How to Prepare Pine Nuts Salad Dressing

There’s only 2 steps involved in making this salad:

  1. Make dressing.
    In a small mixing bowl or jar with a fitted lid, whisk together the oil, vinegar, nutmeg, lemon and tarragon. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or up to one day.
  2. Toss salad; serve.
    Place spinach leaves in a salad or other serving bowl and toss with half of the dressing. Add more as needed. Sprinkle pine nuts over the top. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

How to Serve This Simple Spinach Salad

To serve this delightful salad, place in a large serving bowl and either place on a buffet or on the table to be passed family style. If you want to make it more formal, serve this salad as a starter alongside sautéed goat cheese (follow the method for Sautéed Brie substituting small rounds of goat cheese for the brie).

Storing a Baby Spinach Salad

If making ahead, store the dressing and prepped spinach separately. Wrap the spinach in paper towel and place in an open baggie. Place the dressing in an airtight container and refrigerate. Bring dressing to room temperature before using

Can you make this spinach pine nuts salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can make it ahead; see directions above.

How long does it keep?

Dressing will keep, refrigerated, for around a week. If making more than 8 hours ahead, omit pine nuts from dressing and add when tossing with the spinach.

Can you freeze spinach salad?

No, you can’t freeze this salad.

Overhead shot of a plate holding a serving of Easy Spinach Salad with Lemon Dressing on the side

Pine Nut Salad Dressing Uses

In addition to tossing with baby spinach, Lemon Pine Nut Dressing is also delicious with mixed spring greens or cooked couscous.

Easy Spinach Salad FAQ

What mixes well with spinach?

Almost anything goes with spinach! My favorite flavors to add into a spinach salad are lemon, Dijon mustard, bacon or prosciutto, garlic, shallots, red onion, green onions, dried cranberries or raisins, feta cheese, goat cheese, fresh herbs, hard boiled eggs, roasted butternut squash, and/or roasted/fresh mushrooms. Oh, and curry powder too!

What dressing is good for spinach salad?

In addition to the Lemon Pine Nut Dressing in this recipe, check out the dressings on these other spinach salad recipes:
Lemon Dijon Dressed Baby Spinach Salad Recipe
Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Spinach Salad
Arugula and Tomato Salad with Balsamic Dressing
Mixed Green Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Stilton Cheese
Chopped Apple Pecan Salad

Can you eat raw spinach?

Yes, you can. In fact, raw spinach is rich in many nutrients that are good for you, including Vitamins A, C and K plus iron and fiber, to name a few.

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blue plate holding a serving of Easy Spinach Salad with wine glasses, forks and plates in the background

Easy Spinach Salad with Lemon Pine Nut Dressing

This Spinach Salad with Pine Nut Dressing is an excellent side dish to have in your recipe files. Why? Well, because sometimes you need an uncomplicated dish to pair with a more complex main dish – one that will add color and flavor to the plate, but not compete with the star. This spinach salad does all that, plus it’s quick and easy to prepare. And, the Lemon Dressing is bright and fresh, with an unusual ingredient – nutmeg!

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons choped fresh tarragon (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 2/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach, rinsed and long stems removed

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, nutmeg, lemon zest and tarragon. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or up to one day.
  2. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or up to one day.
  3. Place spinach leaves in a salad or other serving bowl and toss with half of the dressing. Add more as needed.
  4. Sprinkle pine nuts over the top. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Notes

To serve as a starter: Divide tossed spinach among 8 salad plates. Sprinkle pine nuts on top; season with salt and pepper. Can add sautéed goat cheese alongside (follow the method for Sautéed Brie substituting small rounds of goat cheese for the brie).

  • Author: Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: side dishes, salads
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: American
blue plate holding a serving of Easy Spinach Salad with wine glasses, forks and plates in the background

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I haves provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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  1. I found out about this recipe in Sunset Magazine’s “Recipes Annual 1999 Edition.” They recommend this recipe for Thanksgiving so I will pin it to my holiday board. My mom loves spinach and my sister loves pine nuts so this will be the perfect salad for my family. Also, I only eat vegan and vegetarian recipes so this fits the bill! Thanks. 🙂