This delicious summer salad has avocados, spinach, cherry tomatoes, radishes, cotija cheese, and finished with a lemony vinaigrette. It is the perfect accompaniment to any summer cookout!
The post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. But if you're in a rush, please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Great way to use up avocados: If you're bored of making avocado toast and guacamole, then this is a great way to use up avocados in a delicious summer salad!
- Simple, comes together in just 30 minutes: This is a really fuss-free salad that even salad haters will love. Fresh ingredients, simple vinaigrette!
- Easily customizable: You can add almost any other fresh summer vegetables to this salad to make it even more nutritious and delicious!
📋 Ingredients & notes
This spinach and avocado salad uses a super simple recipe with just seven ingredients, so picking the freshest produce and being thoughtful is important. This is especially true for some of the produce.
- Spinach. I typically use baby spinach, fresh and triple washed, and typically organic. Recent federal data shows that conventional spinach has more pesticide residue by weight than all other produce tested. It even had trace quantities of DDT, a chemical that was abolished in the 70s!! Just goes to show how much soil health really matters.
- Avocado. Pick avocados that are ripe, but a bit firm, and definitely not mushy! You can also add pickled avocados for a really unique flavor profile!
- Radishes. Radishes add a nice crunch to complement the soft avocados. But you can substitute this with red onions in a pinch. Make sure to slice them really thin and drop them in water for a few minutes to reduce the astringent notes! Or you can also use pickled onions for a sweet and spicy note!
- Cotija cheese. This brings a nice pop of flavor and contrast without overpowering the dish. If you want the same flavors, but can't find cotija, feta works great or you can use almost any soft cheese (e.g., goat cheese, or even blue cheese or gorgonzola!) To make this salad vegan, you can substitute with vegan feta!
For other variations, you can add corn, toasted pepitas, or fresh herbs like dill and cilantro. Keeping it simple typically works though!
📖 Assembling the summer salad
Start by preparing the radishes
Chop off the edges of the radishes and use straight cuts on your box grater or a mandoline slicer. Alternatively, you can just use a small paring knife to thinly slice them into rounds.
Next, slice up the avocados
I do this at the end to prevent them from browning. To get neat slices, remove the pit, and slice the avocado into halves. Then, slice each half vertically. Then you can remove the skin, and slice vertically to get 3-4 slices per half. Alternatively, you can slice vertically into smaller slices and then remove the skin.
When you're done, you should be left with clean, thin slices of avocados that are begging to be eaten!
Finally, prepare the lemon vinaigrette and assemble the salad
For a simple dressing, I use 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Note that it has to be fresh, don't use the ones that are in the squeeze bottle! To take it up a notch, try my poached garlic green goddess dressing with parsley!
Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl, drizzle with the lemon vinaigrette and give it a good mix, taking care not to smash the avocados.
Add salt and pepper on top if you prefer, to your taste. And then, your salad is ready!
🍴 Serving suggestions & storage
You can make this salad up to a couple of hours before serving. I do recommend slicing the avocados right before you serve though!
Three tips for ensuring freshness of the spinach avocado salad:
- Prevent the avocado from browning by squeezing some lemon juice directly on it before adding the rest to the salad. Citrus contains antioxidants, preventing the avocado from browning too much.
- To avoid the avocados getting mushy, add them last. You can either toss the rest of the ingredients together using tongs, and then add the avocados, or gently just shake the bowl and transfer to a serving platter to make sure they're well mixed.
- If you end up using the green goddess dressing, I suggest adding it on at the very end - about two tablespoons should be sufficient. This adds a really herbal note to the salad and brings a pop of freshness that's hard to beat!
I don't recommend storing leftovers for this salad because the textures tend to change overnight. But you could totally store it in an airtight container. The avocados and vegetables will become softer, but they'll still taste delicious. Add a squirt of fresh lemon and give it a stir before serving.
If you love this salad, you might also enjoy these other salad recipes:
Spinach Avocado Salad
- 6 oz baby spinach, read post about why you should consider going organic for spinach
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced into thin vertical pieces
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes
- 4-5 radishes, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 oz cotija cheese, crumbled, can substitute feta
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, adjust to taste
- Wash the baby spinach and set aside (or consider buying pre-washed spinach)
- Wash the radishes thoroughly and slice off the edges. Then, using a mandoline slicer or a paring knife, slice the radishes into thin rounds (see post for step-by-step pictures)
- Grate a small wedge of cotija cheese or feta cheese (~ 1 oz) and set aside
- Slice the avocado into two halves. Then, remove the pit. Slice each half into four slices and then remove the skin. To keep them from browning, sprinkle some lemon juice on them and set aside.
- Add three tablespoons of olive oil to one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice (approximately juice from half a lemon wedge). Then using a small whisk, whisk them together until emulsified (i.e., combined properly)
- Assemble the salad with the spinach base; followed by radishes and cherry tomatoes; then cotija cheese and finally avocados. Drizzle the vinaigrette on the salad, then add salt and pepper, and serve fresh!
- Easily upscale the salad by replacing the lemony vinaigrette with a delicious poached garlic and parsley Green Goddess dressing!
- To make it vegan, simply leave out the cotija cheese.
- Check out the post ingredient section for a variety of other variations - for instance, adding a crunch element (using pepitas or nuts), substituting radishes with onions (or pickled onions!) and finally, substituting the cotija cheese with other soft cheeses (e.g., goat cheese or blue cheese)
Note. This post was originally published on April 29, 2020 and it was updated on February 20, 2021 with clearer process photographs. Recipe remains the same!