Chopped Spinach Salad with Smoked Gouda

I’m not suggesting that if you were to make and devour a batch of the peanut butter caramel cookie bars you’d need to do something wild and crazy like eat only salad for a week. But. I won’t stop you either, especially when there are salads like this to carry you through.

It’s so good, you won’t even remember you put yourself into a salad timeout for excessive peanut butter caramel consumption.

Chopped Spinach Salad with Smoked Gouda

In a million years I never would have thrown these salad ingredients together, but this, like many others, falls into that category of: don’t knock it til you try it. The chopped spinach, smoky gouda, toasted almonds + bell peppers + crisp apples (hello, crunch) drizzled with the tangy, sweet dressing makes for one seriously yummy salad. Plus, the colors. So pretty, don’t you think?

I realized a couple of years ago, after observing a friend who makes the best salads in all the land, that any dinner, even the simplest of simple dinners (yes, I’m talking to you hot dogs), can be elevated by a killer salad. A really beautiful, delicious, more-than-just-bagged-lettuce salad can make you look like a rock star with hardly any extra work. This lovely chopped spinach number is no exception and the 5-second (ok, 10-second) homemade honey mustard dressing is worth making it alone.

Chopped Spinach Salad with Smoked Gouda

One Year Ago: Vanilla Funfetti Mug Cake {Egg and Dairy Free}
Two Years Ago: Berries on a Cloud {Best Dessert of the Summer!}
Three Years Ago: Honeydew, Blueberry and Mango Salad with Lime-Ginger Reduction

Chopped Spinach and Smoked Gouda Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Yield: Serves 6 as a side dish

Chopped Spinach and Smoked Gouda Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Smoked gouda has a very strong, distinctive, delicious flavor - if you aren't a fan, try subbing in another soft cheese like regular gouda, havarti, or monterey jack.


  • 10 tablespoons honey
  • 5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Salad:
  • 6 ounces baby or regular spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet, crisp apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup smoked Gouda cheese, cubed
  • 1/3 cup chopped lightly salted almonds, toasted


  1. For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve (or up to a week or so).
  2. For the salad, toss all the salad ingredients together. Add the dressing, to taste, and toss to combine or serve individual servings with the dressing alongside.

Recipe Source: from a recipe sent to me by a reader, Emily B. who got it from a friend (Rebe M.) originally from the BYU Museum of Art Cafe (I omitted the celery and made my own simple honey mustard dressing adapted from this recipe on Food Network)

18 Responses to Spinach, Apple & Gouda Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

  1. Paula says:

    This was a very yummy salad. I’m sending the leftovers with some grilled chicken for my husbands lunch. I halved the dressing because we aren’t huge dressing people and it was more than enough. I’d recommend making the dressing early or even the day before because it tasted much better the second day. Thanks for another great recipe!

  2. Sarah says:

    This was so delicious. The only thing I changed is that I halved the dressing (and still had more than was needed).

  3. Tracy says:

    This is a wonderful dressing! I’m ok about honey mustard dressings but decided to try this anyway because of the cheese and apple combination. Wow! This dressing pops! I had extra and used it on spiralized cucumber noodles with cashews and smoked cheese. I was smiling the whole time I ate it. Thank you! I plan to make this a recipe often.

  4. Kim in MD says:

    I eat salad everyday (I guess you could say I’m in a constant salad time out!), and I am always looking for new recipes to try. This looks absolutely delicious, Mel!

  5. Lucy says:

    This salad is so delicious! I added some chopped bacon and avocado.

  6. Mady says:

    I was looking for a summer salad recipe, and thought, “I wonder if Mel has any great ideas.” And lo and behold, the first thing I see on your site! Thanks so much! I have some left over goat cheese I’d like to use up. Do you think it would sub out okay for gouda? Though I will definitely try the gouda next time!

    Love, a longtime follower, first time commenter! My sis-in-law introduced me to your site and I never looked back. I’m never disappointed when I make your recipes! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Mady, for your sweet words. I think goat cheese is fantastic in salad so I say go for it (although it sounds like you may have already made it since it took me a few days to respond).

  7. Sheila says:

    Honey mustard is a favorite dressing around here. I am guilty of always buying the processed grocery store dressing with ingredients within that I can’t pronounce. I am excited to try this with all the yummy ingredients within. The orange glaze for the chicken meatballs you created for the chicken/turkey meatballs was the absolute best. The sauces/dressings/broths are what makes a recipe go from okay to spectacular.

    My heart and thoughts will be with you this coming week as you participate in your 1st marathon. So happy for you!

  8. Heather bell says:

    Well you had me at honey mustard

  9. Emily B. says:

    so glad you liked this salad as much as we do! :o)

  10. Janna says:

    This salad looks wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing! And thank you so much for putting the Weekly Menu back on your side bar….I am so grateful for your ideas when I am planning meals for my family. I hope that you know how much your hard work and incredible example are appreciated!
    P.S. You are going to do GREAT on the 13th!!! 🙂

  11. Nicole H says:

    This is such a beautiful salad! Thank you for posting recipes like these. Even though it’s a no brainier for some when coming up with what to put on a salad, for me, I need ideas or a recipe. This looks like a delicious combination and your dressing sounds amazing. I’ve never had plain or smoked Gouda before, I’ll have to pick some up and make this salad.

  12. Hcoxmom1 says:

    Oh, perfect timing. Yesterday while shopping with my hubby and soon to be missionary my son wanted to eat at California Pizza Kitchen.. we hadn’t eaten there in around 8-9 years (we don’t eat out much) –obviously. Anyway, I ordered a California Fields salad, it was loaded with field greens of all kinds, spinach, watermelon, strawberries, pistachios, and feta. My husband and son looked at me like I was crazy .. ordering salad and with the ingredients. It seriously was one of the yummiest combinations ever !!! I’m not sure what was in the sweet vinaigrette, but I resolved right then and there that my quest for the summer is to try different combinations of greens, fruits, cheeses and nuts.. I was planning to enlist your help for this .. with the delicious salads you already have here and this post is perfect !!! Can’t wait to make this one !! I’m so glad I have you in my life 🙂

  13. audrey says:

    Once again Mel comes to the rescue! Needed a spinach salad for a party on Saturday night and here it is! Thanks Mel! You are truly a life changer, one dish at a time!!!!

  14. Becky says:

    I can’t wait to make this! I actually use 4 ounces of smoked gouda when I make your skillet mac and cheese, so this recipe is a great way to use what’s leftover!

  15. Paula says:

    Could you add some grilled chicken to make this a main dish salad?

  16. Liz says:

    Thank you Mel for the nice salad recipe.

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