Apricot Salad with Spinach, Cherries, Pecans, and Feta Cheese is a healthy Summer salad packed with fiber and antioxidants. It's meatless, gluten-free, and high in fiber. This stone fruit salad will be a crowd-pleaser at Summer picnics, potlucks, barbecue parties, and other gatherings with family and friends.
Apricot salad - the best stone fruit salad
This quick and easy, crowd-pleasing salad is loaded with fresh stone fruit: apricots and cherries. Other ingredients are spinach, pecans, and Feta cheese. The Balsamic drizzle is made from scratch by cooking down Balsamic vinegar + honey until syrupy consistency. You can also use store-bought Balsamic glaze or your favorite store-bought Balsamic dressing. Simple enough to make on a busy weekday - fancy enough to serve company! Serve this apricot salad as a side with grilled meats and with just about any main course (chicken, steak, pork, seafood, pasta). Or, add protein to turn this apricot salad into a complete meal. Other Summer stonefruit salads you might enjoy are peach blueberry spinach salad and strawberry mango salad.
- Apricots. Choose apricots that are plump and firm (or slightly soft) to the touch, with unwrinkled skin.
- Cherries. Use dark fresh sweet cherries that are firm in texture. Use a cherry pitter (I bought a great one on Amazon!) to pit the cherries. Slice each pitted cherry in half. Do not use frozen or canned cherries. Sour (tart) cherries won't work in this recipe, either.
- Spinach is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. It’s high in fiber and a good source of many vitamins and minerals. Spinach is a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid, iron, and calcium.
- Feta cheese is quite nutritious, as well, and is a great source of calcium. This delicious cheese has a soft texture and briny flavor.
- Pecans add crunch and texture to any salad and are packed with fiber and are rich in many nutrients. This includes zinc and Vitamin B1. I like to lightly toast them in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes.
Balsamic Glaze (option 1)
Make the balsamic glaze by cooking down the balsamic vinegar together with a small amount of honey or brown sugar until the mixture reduces by about half. For example, combine 1 cup of balsamic vinegar + ¼ cup of honey or brown sugar and cook it down. Consistency should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon but should not be overly thick.
Honey-Mustard Lemon Dressing (option 2)
- The dressing ingredients include extra virgin olive oil, honey, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. I recommend using freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (not the bottled kind) and extra virgin olive oil. You can use either maple syrup or honey.
- Just combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar and whisk with the fork (or close the jar with the lid and shake it vigorously to blend the flavors).
How to make the apricot salad
- Combine spinach, sliced and cored apricots, sliced and cored cherries, and crumbled feta cheese in a large bowl. Toss to combine.
- Divide the salad among the individual serving bowls.
- Top each serving bowl with pecans.
- Drizzle the salad with the homemade Balsamic glaze or homemade Honey-Mustard Lemon dressing.
When are apricots in season?
Fresh apricots are generally available from May to August. Take advantage of this delicious seasonal fruit, and use it in your cooking!
Apricots are highly nutritious little fruits! They are a good source of Vitamins A, C, and E. They are rich in antioxidants (such as beta-carotene and lutein). They provide Potassium, Magnesium, and are rich in fiber. And, they are low in calories!
How to choose the best fresh apricots
- Choose a firm texture. Buy apricots that are firm and crisp. They should be plump and firm (or slightly soft) to the touch, with unwrinkled skin. Ripe apricots should have a rich orange color or a combo of rich yellow/orange.
- Avoid overripe apricots that are easily indented when touched or the ones that have cuts or wrinkled skin.
- Should apricots be refrigerated? Once the apricots are ripe, they should be refrigerated to prevent them from spoiling.
Variations and substitutions
- Greens. Use your favorite greens - spinach, arugula, mixed greens, garden greens, and lettuce.
- Use other stone fruit, such as peaches, mango, and plums instead of or in addition to apricots and cherries.
- Nuts. Dress up this apricot salad with your favorite nuts: pecans, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, or almonds. If using raw nuts, toast them briefly in the oven to make them crunchy. You can also use roasted nuts or use candied nuts.
- Add seeds. Add toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in addition to the nuts or instead of them.
- Dried fruit. Add dried cranberries, dried figs, blueberries, or cherries.
- Cheese. I recommend using goat cheese, feta, or gorgonzola.
Tips for Success
- Don't add the pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and salad dressing until right before serving to keep the salad fresh and to prevent the nuts from getting soggy.
- I recommend arranging the salad in individual bowls. It makes a better presentation. But, you can just mix all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.
- It's best to serve the apricot salad right away, so I recommend making just enough so that you have no leftovers.
- If you do have leftovers, the salad can be refrigerated for 2 days. It's best to refrigerate the salad and the dressing separately.
Add protein to make it a complete meal
Add your favorite protein to turn the apricot salad into a well-balanced meal. Easy ideas are leftover cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken, grilled meats, shrimp, salmon, trout, or scallops. Here are my favorite protein-based recipes that pair well with the apricot salad:
- Shrimp Scampi with Capers
- Garlic Parmesan Baked Salmon
- Pan-Seared Salmon with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Greek Chicken
- Cajun Chicken
- Bacon Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce
Other fresh Summer salads you might like
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Blueberries, Feta, and Pecans
- Spinach Salad with Peaches and Blueberries
- Cranberry Spinach Salad with Cashews and Goat Cheese and Lemon-Honey Poppy Seed Dressing
- Spinach Salad with Mango, Avocado, Blueberries, Strawberries, Cashew Nuts, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Apricot Salad with Spinach, Cherries, Pecans, and Feta Cheese
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup honey or brown sugar
- 5 oz fresh baby spinach
- 2 cups apricots cored and sliced
- 2 cups fresh cherries cored and sliced in half
- 4 oz feta cheese crumbled
- ½ cup pecans
Salad Dressing - Balsamic Glaze
- In a small saucepan, heat balsamic vinegar and honey over medium heat.
- Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and reduces by about half (about 10 or so minutes).
- Remove from heat and pour the balsamic glaze into a heat-proof bowl to cool off. The glaze will get thicker as it cools off.
- Consistency should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon but should not be overly thick.
- You can also use other balsamic dressing alternatives listed below in the Notes section.
- I prefer to arrange the salad in individual bowls for presentation purposes.
- Add spinach to each individual salad bowl. Top with cored and sliced apricots, cored and sliced cherries, pecans (some whole, some chopped), and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle the Balsamic dressing over each individual salad bowl.
- Alternatively, you can combine all the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl, add the dressing, and toss to combine.
Other salad dressing options:
- Use store-bought balsamic glaze.
- Honey balsamic vinegar dressing. Combine ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar + ¼ cup of honey in a mason jar and stir to combine.
- Balsamic vinaigrette. Combine ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar + ¼ cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons of honey + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a mason jar and stir to combine.
- High-quality aged balsamic vinegar made in Italy. Aged balsamic vinegar is often sold in specialized stores or sections of foreign foods at some grocery stores. High-quality Italian-made aged balsamic vinegar has a thicker consistency and does not need cooking down. Just use it as is.
- Or, use your favorite store-bought balsamic vinaigrette-based salad dressing.
Don't like balsamic dressing? Make Honey Lemon Dijon Mustard Dressing instead:
- Combine ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard + 3 tablespoon honey + juice of 1 medium lemon in a mason jar and whisk with a fork to combine.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.