Fruit, Nut and Goat Cheese Salad

Cooking for One or Two, Recipes, Worknight Dinners

Healthy_Summer_Salad_Dried Fruit_Goat_Cheese

When I was in elementary school, I didn’t worry about my weight or count calories. If I had, I have no doubt that the summers would have been my healthiest season of the year. Of course, I wasn’t making fruit, nut and goat cheese salad in elementary school, so we can all agree that things are different now.

Summers once meant playing kickball on balmy evenings and eating ripe peaches, plums and nectarines for dessert, but now, summer means iced coffee, sweating on the subway and doing everything possible not to use my oven when it’s 87 degrees.

Under these circumstances (and because I can’t squeeze a grill onto my too-tiny balcony) it’s easy to reach for chips and salsa and call it dinner.

True, there are some nights where a hunk of Brie and some whole-grain crackers might seem like a well-balanced meal, but to afford that occasional  indulgence, I like to fill the rest of my summer nights with crisp, healthy salads with produce fresh from the farm stand.

Before I share my favorite, simple salad for a busy summer weeknight, there are a few things you should know so you can make your own healthy salad in what seems like seconds.

Go Greener

Studies show that dark, leafy greens are packed with nutrients. Next time you hit the produce aisle or farmer’s market, look beyond romaine and
iceberg lettuce.  Add radicchio, spinach or escarole to your lettuce line-up for a variety of colors and flavors. I like using iron-packed spinach as a base and mixing it with a deep-hued red leaf lettuce.

Say Cheese

For years, I avoided topping salads or sandwiches with cheese because it added fat and calories. While it’s true that some cheese varieties can pack over 110 calories and 12 grams of fat per ounce, a soft cheese like feta or goat can be lower in calories – and so sharp that a little bit adds a lot of flavor.

Beans, Beans, The Musical Fruit

Beans may have a bad reputation on an elementary school playground, but they are a great source of lean protein, especially if, like me, you avoid most red meat. Just rinse them before you pile them onto your salad to prevent the possible bloatiness.

Get a Little Nuts

No matter how many veggies in your salad, sometimes you need a little crunch to satisfy.

Walnuts, full of omega-3s, are a great topping and pair well with most fixings.

Slivered almonds also complement many flavors, especially fruit-infused vinaigrette dressings.

Play Dress Up

The right dressing can make or break a salad, but too much can sometimes break your diet.

A simple vinaigrette can add just the right amount of flavor without unhealthy saturated fats.

Now, if you’ve stared into your fridge for five solid minutes and the perfect salad still hasn’t created itself, the following recipe is a perfect way to incorporate some heart-healthy nuts, creamy goat cheese and fiber-rich dried fruit into one square meal.


Fruit, Nut and Goat Cheese Salad
Recipe type: Worknight Dinners, Cooking for One or Two
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving

  • For vinaigrette:
  • 1/ 4 cup high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped garlic (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ – ½ cup of olive oil

  • For salad:
  • 3 cups mixed greens (such as romaine, endive,
  • radicchio and baby arugula)
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • ⅛ cup raisins
  • ⅛ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 ounce soft goat cheese, lightly crumbled
  • Cherry tomatoes (if desired)
  1. Make vinaigrette: 
Combine balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Gradually add olive oil, whisking until combined and smooth.
  2. Make salad: Combine mixed greens, dried apricots, cranberries, raisins and
  3. chopped walnuts. Toss with dressing and add soft goat cheese. Top with cherry
  4. tomatoes if desired; serve immediately.
What are your favorite salad ingredients? What do you toss with your greens when it’s to hot to use heat to make dinner?

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  • Reply
    The Food Hunter
    August 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Now that’s a perfect salad for sure. I love adding feta cheese to my salads.

  • Reply
    Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)
    August 6, 2009 at 4:54 am

    I am ALL about salads! I literally live on them – I use chicken, cheese, nuts, etc for protein and variety. And I almost always include fruit too. 🙂

  • Reply
    August 4, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Beautiful, hearty salad, and so healthful, too! I love cheese on salads: goat cheese, feta, Asiago, cotija…etc. Yum!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    This definitely puts the average salad to shame. This is more of a feast! An ideal salad in my opinion.

  • Reply
    lisa (dandysugar)
    August 3, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I’ve been having tons of fresh salads lately also for the same reason- it’s too hot to cook. I like to add kale into my greens for extra vitamins. I add any leftover grilled veggies and sometimes hard boiled eggs or add a bit of a light tuna salad on top. It’s different all the time! That’s a great looking salad you have!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    A feast for the eyes as well as the tummy! Yum!

  • Reply
    the provident woman
    August 3, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    That looks amazing. Now I’m hungry.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    salads & sandwiches are pretty much how I eat my way through the summertime.
    I’ve been trying to make the switch towards putting fruit on my salad (strawberries, oranges, etc) but I just CAN’T.
    and I have no clue as to why. They look yummy but I like my traditional salad to consist of romaine or spinach, lots of veggies and, maybe, chicken.

  • Reply
    Lara (Thinspired)
    August 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I love this post! And I have not been so good about salads this summer so this has me excited about them again. I love dried fruit and nuts with my greens…it just makes it extra fancy and delicious 🙂

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    That is definitely my idea of a perfect salad too (I always add feta or goat cheese!)! Sweating on the subway and not turning on the oven sounds oh so familiar 🙂

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    If you are not concerned about calories, you can also put candied walnuts. Adds to the sweet/ salty combo which I love.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Confession–I’ve never had goat cheese (at least I’m not aware that I’ve had it). I am thinking I really need to rectify this.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    that looks so good! when it is too hot, or I get home late, I grab the pita and hummus 🙂

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Delicious salad! This is how I like to make mine too.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 10:43 am

    This sounds like a great dinner to me! I especially like the idea of goat cheese with fruit.
    As for that grilling thing, now that I have to cook for my dad at an assisted living center where there isn’t even a stove, I’m becoming better friends with my George Foreman grill. It’s pretty good for a grilling option if you can’t grill outside.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 10:40 am

    What a beauty of a salad! I’ve been eating salads for meals since early Spring and have no intention of stopping. I love them with all kinds of vegetables- carrot slices, cukes, sweet peppers, and leftover grilled zucchini or eggplant which is my current love. Another option to add for a boost of nutrition is cooked bulgur. It keeps well in the fridge and when mixed with a legume forms a complete protein. I also love sunflower seeds on a salad, especially with dried cranberries. When I make a salad I often just add a little oil, vinegar (fresh squeezed lime juice is also a favorite) and a shake of sea salt and fresh pepper to dress it. Fresh greens really don’t need much else.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 7:24 am

    When i saw this picture my immediate reaction was a mmmmmm. Looks very inviting!

  • Reply
    Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
    August 2, 2009 at 7:05 am

    I’m a salad-as-dinner fanatic in the summer, too. One of my tricks is to buy a really great balsamic or balsamic condiment (I like Rubio, but Villa Manadori is easier to find); it’s sweet enough on its own to serve as a dressing without adding any oil, and a little goes a long way. Vinegar alone has almost no calories, and no carbs or fat. And though the condiment (which means it’s vinegar mixed with wine) is expensive, around $30 or $35 a bottle, it will last for many salads.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 6:51 am

    What a colourful, lovely & healthy summer salad, Maris!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 2:37 am

    YUM! I love making salads with fruit on them. Has to be one of my fav meals in the summer. Alas it’s winter so I’m busy making pumpkin soup instead but think I’ll need to make salad a few times this week!
    I love spinach with fresh berries, goat cheese and walnuts. or pears and blue cheese instead. Mixed lettuce with peaches, thinly sliced red onion and toasted almonds is also delish.
    For lunch I often make “empty the fridge salads” that have apples, raisins, or dried cranberries as well as beets, lettuce, grated carrot, mushrooms and any other leftovers.
    There’s also a delish tofu and green bean salad with spinach and a miso dressing that’s my fav lately. The asian twist is a yummy alternative to balsamic.

  • Reply
    Heidi Renée
    August 2, 2009 at 2:00 am

    This is my ideal salad–dark, leafy greens, something sweet like dried fruit, chopped apple or some red bell pepper, a bit of something nutty for crunch, and a light vinaigrette. Unfortunately for me, my husband balks at all of those things. He’ll only eat salad at home if I use iceberg. And even then usually only once a week. It was way easier to eat healthy when I was single.

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