Spinach Salad with Avocado and Sesame Roasted Almonds

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Sesame-Almond + Avocado Spinach Salad

My husband and I have a game that happens when we travel around the state (or rather, I get inquisitive and he tends to shrug his shoulders and laugh at my eagerness.) I have a rather big fascination with the farms in California. We drive through the country side and I'm constantly trying to figure out what's growing. "Oh, those look like almonds!" I'll exclaim or sometimes I'll be stumped and take to the internet (a few bushes still have me confused.) On one particular occasion, I may have shouted a bit too enthusiastically, "OLIVES! LOOK OLIVES!" Coming from Illinois, anything that isn't corn or soy beans is a real treat. It's exciting to live in an area that can grow so much.

Roasted Red Peppers
Ginger Soy Dressing

Olives also happen to make a staple ingredient in my kitchen (beyond the massive amounts of whole olives we eat): olive oil. With summer coming up, salads will be a daily occurrence in our house and my typical dressing is a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar or for a treat, I'll whip up a honey mustard dressing or something of the likes. Salads and salad dressings are pretty big deals around our house. So much so, that my husband (who didn't really ever cook for himself) owned a salad spinner before we met and is a self-proclaimed salad lover (in part thanks to his mother.)

Spinach Salad
Sesame-Almond + Avocado Spinach Salad

Today's post is in conjunction with California Olive Ranch. I talk a lot about local buying but for some ingredients, locally could mean the difference between the US and another country. Olive oil's imported from other countries have been in the news in the past few years for the lack of quality but the truth is, California is producing stellar olive oils that have amazing flavors to the point of where you can even go on olive oil tastings (just like wine tastings.) These are the types of olive oils that make great salad dressings.

Sesame-Almond + Spinach Salad
Avocado Spinach Salad with Sesame Roasted Almonds

Now that you have good olive oil, it's time to put the pre-made bottled dressing down and walk away slowly. I have a couple different mason jars I use to make up batches of dressings for my husband (he likes the full dressing more than the oil/vinegar combo).  My typically dressing combination: 3 parts olive oil, 2 parts vinegar (balsamic, champagne, or apple cider), 1 part sweetener (honey or maple syrup), an add in or two (mustard, cheese-like feta or parmesan, berries, ginger, sesame seeds, etc), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Give it a good shake in the mason jar and we have dressing for a few salads.

Don't be fooled by the long list of ingredients in this salad. It comes together quick and packs a big flavor (just try not to eat all the roasted almonds before they get on the salad, I couldn't help myself the first few times.)


Sesame-Almond + Avocado Spinach Salad

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Yield: 2-4 1x


  • Almonds
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Dressing
  • 1 small piece peeled ginger (the end of your pinky size)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste*
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salad
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed


  1. Preheat oven to 325˚. In a bowl, toss together almonds, sesame seeds, honey, and soy sauce until almonds are well coated. Spread out into a single layer on a parchment covered sheet tray. Roast for 14 to 16 minutes until sesame seeds are starting to brown. Remove and set aside, letting cool completely.
  2. In a blender, add ginger and pulse until broken into smaller pieces. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Alternatively, minced ginger and combine all ingredients in an airtight container and shake until combined. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking (for example, add more honey if the dressing is a bit tart for your taste.)
  3. To assemble salad, combine spinach, quinoa, red peppers, cilantro, and roasted almonds in a bowl and chop together. Add avocado and drizzle dressing over the salad. Lightly toss salad and serve.


*Tamarind paste can often be found at health food stores, online, or in Asian markets. If you can’t find it, simply leave it out.
**To roast a red pepper, place pepper under the broiler, rotating occasionally, until the pepper is charred.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by California Olive Ranch for their Spring, "Fresh, Bright, & Light" campaign highlighting salads and salad dressings.  It's post like this one that helps me keep the site running and delivering delicious, vegetarian meals to you weekly!

Also, big thanks to California Almonds, California Avocados, and OXO for providing the key ingredients/tools to make this salad. I'm kind of in love with the OXO salad chopper

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19 comments on “Spinach Salad with Avocado and Sesame Roasted Almonds”

  1. This salad looks so fresh and beautiful! And those almonds sound like they'd be just as amazing as a snack as they clearly are over a bed of tasty greens. Yay!

  2. Mmm, I love the quinoa, cilantro, and avocado in this salad and these roasted almonds are special. I never think of doing anything more to nuts than just dry roasting them, but this I would do. 😉 Home-made dressings are a huge deal in our house too. I'll store a small batch in the fridge to have on hand for several days so grain or veg salads can come together quickly.

  3. I am definitely getting into salad mode for the year! And Califlornia Olive Ranch olive oil is one of my favorites!! I always get a little giddy when I see it in the store.

    Kind of want to inhale a whole bowl of this.

  4. This looks so delicious! I eat salad almost everyday, so I can't wait to try this and add to my favorite, savory dishes. Thank you!

  5. I'm behind on my blog reading and I love the sound of this salad. If I had read this post yesterday this would have been our lunch today since I have most ingredients on hand. Absolutely lovely. On a side note, I would love to go olive oil tasting. That may be our next off season trip to CA (along with wine tasting too!)

  6. I'm loving the flavors of this salad and love that you add a touch of sweet to your dressings -delicious!

  7. This looks so delicious and nourishing!
    I hate living in a big city where I can never see anything really growing.
    What's the difference between tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate? Is this the black sticky stuff?

  8. I just made this tonight and I can tell it's going to go into heavy rotation - delicious, simple, healthy. Everything ideal! Thanks.


Welcome to my little internet nook. On this site you'll find over a thousand vegetarian recipes, pantry knowledge, and more. I'm ever obsessed with food from gardening, cooking, and preserving. I hope you'll find endless inspiration on these pages and visit often. 

Virtual hugs, Erin (aka: e.l.l.a.)

a few good grain recipes

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