Vegan spinach salad is a classic recipe that pairs perfectly with sweet and tangy maple balsamic dressing! This vegan spinach salad recipe packs in lots of flavour and nutrition. Learn how to make a filling spinach salad for a satisfying meal. No more boring side salads that leave you wanting more!
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Vegan Spinach Salad Dressing: Ideas
There are countless options for making vegan spinach salad dressings. While I’ve chosen a maple balsamic dressing for this spinach salad recipe, there are lots of other ways to flavour a spinach salad.
- Tahini dressing: tahini, maple syrup, lemon juice, water, salt. Makes for a creamy and rich salad dressing.
- Avocado sauce: avocado, lime juice, garlic powder (or fresh garlic), salt, pepper, water. Blend together for another rich and creamy vegan spinach salad dressing.
- Lemon Dijon dressing: lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, garlic powder, onion powder (possibly with ground coriander seed). Whisk together for a tangy and spicy twist on a classic spinach salad dressing recipe.
- Oil and vinegar: any type of vinegar (red wine, white wine, white balsamic, apple cider etc.) plus your favourite olive oil. Add salt, pepper and other herbs/ spices for endless possibilities.
Vegan Maple Balsamic Dressing for Spinach Salad
For this spinach salad recipe, I’ve chosen to pair it with a vegan maple balsamic dressing. Many spinach salad dressing recipes use honey as an ingredient. Maple syrup is an easy vegan alternative to honey in many recipes and salad dressing is no exception! I love maple balsamic dressing because it provides the perfect sweet and tangy flavours. This vegan maple balsamic dressing also keeps well (in a sealed jar in the fridge). I’ve kept this salad dressing for over a month and it was perfectly fine to use. I wouldn’t recommend keeping it longer than that, but you can use your own judgement. While fresh lemon juice is a nice addition to a balsamic dressing, it can go bad more easily. If you’re a fan of fresh lemon juice on salad, squeeze a bit on before serving rather than putting it into the dressing (unless you plan to use the dressing up right away!).
How to Make a Filling Vegan Spinach Salad
There are two types of salad in this world: the side salad and the main dish salad. Many people think of side salads when thinking about salad. Side salads are great but don’t contain enough calories or nutrition to act as a meal. To make a salad filling aka a meal salad, it needs to contain enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Vegetables on their own don’t pack a ton of protein, carbohydrates or fat which is why salads are notoriously not a filling meal.
Adding Protein to Vegan Spinach Salad
To add protein to a vegan salad, nuts and seeds are by far the easiest option. For this spinach salad recipe, I’ve chosen hemp seeds and pecans. Hemp seeds pack quite a bit of protein and the pecans add a good crunch! Other vegan protein options for salads include:
- Roasted chickpeas (crunchy like a crouton!)
- Black beans
- Tofu (marinated, baked, pan fried, smoked etc.)
- Tempeh (cooked/ baked etc.)
- Vegan bacon bits
- Tofu feta cheese
- Edamame (cooked and shelled)
Protein can also be found in some salad dressings if the dressing uses a nut and/or seed butter (ex. tahini, peanut butter) or has nuts and/or seeds blended into it. I also have a high protein Caesar salad dressing recipe if you’d like to check it out!
Carbohydrates for a Filling Vegan Spinach Salad
This spinach salad recipe is lower in carbohydrates compared to most of the meals I eat. However, some people prefer meals that are a bit lower in carbohydrates. If you find energy levels are a concern for you, adding extra carbohydrates to a meal may help. Lower carbohydrate salads are one of the main reasons why salads aren’t a filling or satisfying lunch option. Many people make the mistake of not adding carbohydrates to a salad, then feel hungry or have low energy later in the day. Some tasty vegan carbohydrate options for spinach salad include:
- Cooked sweet potato
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Vegan croutons
- Any kind of cooked grain (ex. barley, amaranth etc.)
Carbs can also be added to the side of a salad. For example, a side of whole grain bread or a whole wheat pita.
Adding Fats to Make a Vegan Spinach Salad Satisfying
Adding healthy fats to a salad is not usually a problem as most salad dressings contain some type of healthy fats. This maple balsamic dressing recipe includes olive oil. Using oil in salad dressing is quite common. Looking at the list of salad dressing options above, the ones that don’t contain oil use either avocado or tahini. Both of these ingredients provide healthy fats! Adding nuts, seeds, avocado and/ or olives to the salad itself is another easy way to add some healthy fats. Fats are a great way to make a meal more filling and satisfying. They can also increase absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (ex. vitamin A) and other fat-soluble compounds like certain antioxidants.
How to Flavour Vegan Spinach Salad Recipes
The ingredients for a spinach salad recipe are extremely flexible. Use whatever you like or have on hand! When it comes to making a tasty vegan spinach salad, the key is to layer in the flavours and textures from different ingredients. Here’s how to make a flavourful vegan spinach salad:
- Start with spinach as your leafy green base. You could add in a variety of different leafy greens as well!
- Add a crunchy nut. This recipe uses pecans. Salads without a crunch are never as good.
- Use fresh or dried fruit. The sweetness adds a nice layer of flavour. I love pairing cranberries with spinach. Fresh strawberries, apples or peaches are also great when they’re in season.
- Add more crunch. Additional vegetables like cucumber can bring variety, flavour and crunch. Celery, carrots, bell pepper and radishes are other tasty options.
- Make it creamy. Use avocado or a nut/ seed butter to add a creamy element to the salad. This is optional, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to eat avocado!
- Boost the flavour. Add elements like sliced green onion to pack in yet another layer of flavour to your spinach salad. Ginger, garlic or other aromatics are also a great option (could be blended into the salad dressing). Fresh or dried herbs are delicious. Spices (often added to the dressing) is yet another way to increase flavour.
Another key point to making a tasty salad you enjoy is to skip any ingredients you don’t like.
Summary: Vegan Spinach Salad
I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe for vegan spinach salad with maple balsamic dressing! What’s your favourite spinach salad ingredient? Let me know in the comments below. Note: I don’t include quantities for the salad ingredients. Use as much as you like to create either a side salad portion, or a full meal! The maple balsamic dressing recipe makes about ½ C which is likely enough for a few large servings of salad!
Vegan Spinach Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing
- Cutting Board
- Large bowl
- Dry cranberries
- Hemp seeds
- Green onion
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients or shake together in a jar. Can store leftover dressing in a sealed jar/ container for a week in the fridge.
- Prepare your salad veggies in any way you like.
- Toss the salad with the dressing before serving and enjoy!
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This is an updated post: Original post date Jan 2017.