Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette


Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette combines spicy, sweet, and smokey in one sensational salad!

 Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette (a sweetgreen copycat recipe!) |

Tell me I’m dreaming and that our long, holiday weekend isn’t over yet… No dice? Darn!

We’ve had a fantastic last couple of days and one of my favorite parts was breaking in the new patio set Ben gave me for my birthday. It’s a charming, 2-person table, chair and blue umbrella that we’ve dubbed Bistro Praiano as a nod to the tiny Italian town we fell in love with a few years ago. It’ll definitely do until we get that retirement villa up and running. In 30 years. But who’s counting? ;)


My birthday was on Saturday but he set everything up on Thursday night so I could have breakfast out there alone on the 4th. Just me, a mimosa, and a breakfast scramble. Bliss!


The afternoon of the 4th was just as gorgeous so later that day we packed the little boy up and drove 25 minutes north to Madrid, IA – home of the High Trestle Bridge and trail. (Here’s more about it in a post I wrote a few years ago!)


This is such a cool feature of the tiny town, and the trail/bridge was BUMPIN’. Tons and tons of bikers and walkers. Very festive indeed.


We went to a couple BBQs later that day then enjoyed more time on the back deck after this little firecracker went to bed. No parades or fireworks on the 4th for us this year, but the patriotic music we had blasting over the speakers was still fun!


I’m glad we got our outdoor adventures in on Friday because it rained most of the day Saturday. Luckily it stopped just in time for Ben and me to head downtown to celebrate my birthday that night.


For years my birthday tradition has been to go to our all-time favorite sushi restaurant for dinner, Miyabi 9, but the threat of gluten cross contamination at the sushi counter, soy sauce use, etc was too much of a headache to deal with so we decided to give a new, gluten-free-friendly restaurant in town a try – Malo! 


I was sad about Miyabi for about a minute because Malo ended up having the best outdoor patio, mojitos, chips, salsa, AND guacamole. First impression was that it was a total home run!


Unfortunately our entree orders got messed up four (yes, four!) times but it all got figured out in the end and the restaurant more than made up for it. Locals, you’ve got to try the chorizo tacos on homemade corn tortillas (not the flour ones pictured below.) So, so awesome – we’ll definitely be back!


On Sunday the family gathered for a birthday feast which included grilled salmon with avocado salsa, gluten free pasta salad, and fresh green beans.


Finn and my Mom decorated chocolate cupcakes for dessert, and it was alll good.


Oh boy – 31. There’s no turning back now! ;)


Now, in case you couldn’t tell, Ben and I enjoyed ourselves immensely this weekend. Like, Immensely which means I’m soooo ready to get back on track with the help of Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette!

This salad is a freaking masterpiece. Mixed greens are topped with Smokey Candied Walnuts, creamy white cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes, and spicy roasted broccoli and sweet corn. Then it’s drizzled with an easy homemade basil vinaigrette. Tastes ultra decadent but eating healthy has never been this big of a treat.

 Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette (a sweetgreen copycat recipe!) |

I’ve been wanting to share this summery salad recipe for months after spying it on the sweetgreen menu in DC when we visited earlier this spring. While sweetgreen’s version includes spicy broccoli and corn, white cheddar cheese, and tomatoes, I decided to add in crispy, Smokey Candied Walnuts for a boost of protein and burst of flavor using Fisher Nuts, whom I’ve been developing recipes for this year. It was a fabulous addition. So fabulous that Ben asked for more when he was done.


This salad was substantial enough for us for dinner, on account of the cheese and walnuts, but feel free to add grilled chicken or shrimp on top. Anything more would just enhance the yummy flavor. Dig in, people!

 Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette (a sweetgreen copycat recipe!) |

Start by making the Smokey Candied Walnuts, which is just a fancy name for 3/4 cup Fisher Walnut Halves and Pieces tossed with 1 Tablespoon honey, 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP) and 1/2 teaspoon salt.


The sweetness from the honey and smokiness from the smoked paprika is an absolutely killer combo!


Spread the walnuts out on a silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet then bake for 4-5 minutes at 350 degrees or until they’re golden brown. Give ’em a good stir then let ’em cool. Don’t worry, they’ll crisp as they cool.


Next turn the oven up to 400 degrees then toss fresh sweet corn kernels cut from 2 ears of corn (about 1-1/2 cups) and 4 cups broccoli florets with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and red chili pepper flakes. Pop into the oven to roast for 10-12 minute or until golden brown.

When I first saw the term “spicy roasted broccoli” on the sweetgreen menu I was turned off a bit, but the tiny bite of heat is actually awesome!


While the veggies are roasting, whip up a garden-fresh basil vinaigrette. In a food processor or blender add 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon honey, salt, and pepper then process while drizzling in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Easy.


And like I said, totally garden fresh. Herb hill is outta control!


This vinaigrette was not only delectable when drizzled over this salad but it’d make a really good marinade for chicken or shrimp, too. The color is so vibrant.


Finally, divide mixed greens between bowls then top with the Smokey Candied Walnuts and roasted spicy broccoli and sweet corn. Add cubes of white cheddar cheese, fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, and you’re set!

 Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette (a sweetgreen copycat recipe!) |

Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette

serves 4


Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette combines spicy, sweet, and smokey in one sensational salad!


  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • kernels from 2 ears sweet corn (or 1-1/2 cups frozen-than-thawed sweet corn kernels)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red chili pepper flakes
  • salt
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6oz white cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 10oz mixed greens
  • For the Smokey Candied Walnuts:
    • 1 Tablespoon honey
    • 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup Fisher Walnut Halves and Pieces
  • For the Basil Vinaigrette:
    • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil
    • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 Tablespoon honey
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. For the Smokey Candied Walnuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees then line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside. Add all ingredients except walnuts to a small bowl then stir to combine. Add walnuts then stir to coat. Spread walnuts out on prepared baking sheet then bake for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven then stir and let cool (walnuts will crisp as they cool.)
  2. Turn oven up to 400 degrees then spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray and set aside. Add broccoli to one baking sheet and corn to the other then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, red chili pepper flakes, and salt, then toss with hands to coat. Roast for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. For the Basil Vinaigrette: add all ingredients except extra virgin olive oil to a food processor or blender then pulse to roughly chop the basil. Turn processor on then slowly stream in olive oil.
  4. Divide lettuce between bowls then top with roasted broccoli and sweet corn, smokey candied walnuts, white cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and basil dressing.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

 Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette (a sweetgreen copycat recipe!) |

This salad is all about the toppings. Crunchy, creamy, sweet, smokey, fresh and totally feel good food!

 Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Vinaigrette (a sweetgreen copycat recipe!) |

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  1. It looks like you guys had a great weekend and a happy birthday! Love this basil vinaigrette.

  2. Lea J. 07.07.2014

    Happy belated Birthday!

    And sweetgreen! One just opened up here in my neighborhood and I finally stopped by to check it out. SO GOOD. I’m going to need these knock-offs so I don’t spend my whole paycheck on lunches out. The santorini salad look-alike is killer.

  3. Kristen 07.07.2014

    OMG that looks so good!

  4. Eryka 07.07.2014

    What a fun weekend! Do you know where Ben got the patio set? So cute!

  5. Can I just say that I love your basil-lemon dressing recipes. They’re delicious and so tasty. Nothing beats fresh straight-from-the-garden food.
    Also, I might need to take a trip to Madrid, never knew where that bridge was.. ha

  6. Yum! Love this Kristin – the walnuts look so amazing! I bet I would just end up snacking on them!!

  7. Andrea 07.07.2014

    This looks delicious! Is the dressing made without vinegar?

    • Kristin 07.07.2014

      It is, and I just realized I called it a vinaigrette – changed it to dressing! ;)

      • Andrea 07.07.2014

        Thanks for clarifying. I’m looking forward to trying it!

  8. Emily 07.07.2014

    Your backyard looks sooooo beautiful! Do we get a tour one of these days!?!?!

  9. ShaNae 07.07.2014

    Happy belated birthday! July is a great bday month as mine is on the 23rd. :) Glad you and your family had an awesome 4th weekend! Lincoln is getting so big and as always a handsome little guy!

    • Kristin 07.08.2014

      Happy early birthday!

      • ShaNae 07.08.2014

        Thank you! I Love your recipes and blog by the way!

  10. CakePants 07.07.2014

    Oh wow, this salad looks awesome – especially the smokey candied walnuts…YUM! Looks like a great way to eat healthy and actually forget that you’re eating healthy :)

  11. Laura S. 07.07.2014

    Happy birthday! It was my birthday too! Best party weekend to have a birthday!

  12. ColleenB. ~ Texas 07.07.2014

    Happy Belated Birthday.
    Your salad looks Awesome and very appealing

  13. i am SO jealous of your herb garden. it’s everything i could ever want in my backyard!

  14. Barb 07.07.2014

    An adorable family …..I’m going to give this salad a try!!

  15. Chicago Jogger 07.07.2014

    Yum, this looks like a wonderful salad. I definitely need it too!

  16. Hayley 07.07.2014

    Your can’t-stop-won’t-stop comment about the smoked paprika is ON. POINT. I am so with you on that one. I made a Lauren’s Latest Easy Tortilla Soup recipe a couple months ago and my fiance and I became obsessed with smoked paprika after that. I find excuses to use it in everything, so I am glad you are finding more for me! :D Loved seeing the photos of your weekend. Happy belated birthday!

    • Kristin 07.07.2014

      Oh my gosh, seriously – soooo good. I’ve been buying regular hummus and dousing it in smoked paprika. It’s my new favorite snack ever!

  17. Kendall 07.07.2014

    What is in the pasta salad they y’all had with your birthday meal? It looks so yummy!

    • Kristin 07.07.2014

      It was so good! Just baby spinach, pasta, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, black olives, and Italian dressing.

  18. Katie 07.07.2014

    Malo has gluten-free options?!!! That just made my week!!

    • Kristin 07.07.2014

      They do – just ask for the gluten-free menu. The owner, George Formaro, is gluten intolerant (doesn’t have CD, but does have an intolerance,) so he has a great GF menu at each of his restaurants!

  19. Amy 07.07.2014

    Happy belated birthday!

    Can we just take a moment to talk about the size of the silverware at Malo?!? It’s ginormous! I loved the food, but felt a bit ridiculous with that massive fork in my hand :)

    Thanks for the delicious salad recipe! I will give it a try!

    • Kristin 07.07.2014

      Hahaha! I got tacos so I didn’t even notice. I will have to pay attention next time. ;)

  20. Tracy 07.07.2014

    Happy belated birthday, Kristin!! You’re so young!

    I’m so jealous of your herb garden! Heaven. And your patio set is darling…great gift!! Did you hurt the back of your leg?

    • Kristin 07.07.2014

      Thank you so much, Tracy! It’s a birthmark. :)

  21. Karen 07.07.2014

    Such a cute patio set! My hubby and I are going on our honeymoon in a couple of weeks (we got married last August), and we are going to Sorrento, Rome, and Venice. Our itinerary was totally inspired by your travels, and all of your awesome pics! Can’t wait. Please let us know if you had any favorite spots in Rome we should check out- from one foodie to another:) Love your blog!

  22. Erin M. 07.07.2014

    Hi Kristin! I just wanted to thank you for making your giveaways so easy to enter! It’s so nice to just click once and be entered instead of having 43000 options for enter. So, thank you and happy belated birthday!

  23. You look absolutely adorable on that patio!

  24. Jodea Pakos 07.07.2014

    Yay for thigh birthmarks! Mine looks like someone slapped me just below my butt, but (no pun intended) I completely forget it’s even there most of the time as I don’t tend to check my rear view too much!

    My picky boyfriend and I both consistently love all your recipes – if it’s IGE he’ll trust it’s good, which is a great help while we’re travelling the globe and I’m trying to come up with new quick, healthy recipes we can make on the road. Thank you.

  25. Carolsue 07.07.2014

    Where is the +1 Button? I see Comment, Like, Tweet and Pin buttons, but I don’t see one that says Like or +1. Do you mean you want us to add you to our Google Circles? Thanks.

  26. Brittany 07.07.2014

    Just saved this to my yumprint account! Will definitely be trying this recipe!


  27. 1st: happy belated birthday!
    2nd: this salad looks spectacular! So delicious.

  28. Trisha 07.07.2014

    Happy belated birthday to you! There’s really not one thing I don’t like about this post but man, that herb garden! I wish I’d gotten my act together to plant some herbs in addition to our veggies. Fresh herbs are the best!

    • Kristin 07.08.2014

      There’s still plenty of time to plant herbs! Don’t give up!

  29. Lauren 07.07.2014

    The perfect summer dinner!

  30. Yum! After a long holiday weekend myself, I am definitely needing a resets. I’m always looking for new detox/restart recipes, and this sounds wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  31. tammigirl 07.08.2014

    You made my mouth water more than once with this post! And it’s only 8:30 am! Looks like a great choice of restaurant – I wish I was in Iowa so I could eat there today. Your salad? I could make that and eat it today. :)

  32. Sara 07.08.2014

    Great husbands think alike! Mine got me a patio set for my birthday (which was yesterday) that is soooo similar to yours! I LOVE it! And July birthdays are the best! :)

  33. Brittany 07.08.2014

    Happy belated b-day! It looks like you had a blast.

    And oh my goodness, this salad looks amazing. Pinning now.

  34. Happy belated birthday, Kristin! It looks like you had a fabulous weekend.

    This salad is a masterpiece indeed! I can see why Ben went back for seconds.

  35. Caitlin 07.08.2014

    I went out and bought the ingredients for this salad right after it came to my inbox! I added some grilled chicken because my husband doesn’t do so well with no meat at dinner, it was delicious!!

  36. This looks amazing! I have some sweet basil growing in one of my herb pots and I haven’t found enough uses for all of it, so this looks perfect for it!

  37. Samantha 07.09.2014

    What a wonderful summer dinner….the salad looks amazing.

  38. Erin 07.09.2014

    What an interesting and unique salad! Will definitely be trying this…

  39. […] this Earth Bowl Salad with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Dressing and these peppercorn ranch BBQ burgers (one of the people I made them for called them “a […]

  40. Nicola 07.11.2014

    The smokey candied walnuts sound divine! Definitely have to try this :)

  41. Amanda 07.11.2014

    Cute sneakers…what kind are they?!

  42. […] Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil Dressing via Iowa Girl Eats […]

  43. Auww your family pictures are just so beautiful and Happy Birthday!
    I adore huge salad bowls like this and I don’t add broccoli or walnut’s enough to my salads so thank you for the bit of inspiration there!
    Who said salad was boring? :)

  44. […] Earth Bowl Salads with Smokey Candied Walnuts and Basil …'ve been wanting to share this summery salad recipe for months after spying it on the sweetgreen menu in DC when we visited earlier this spring. While sweetgreen's version includes spicy …. In order to make your own salad creation using Fisher Nuts at home, Fisher Nuts is giving away a $100 gift card to the Food Network Store so you can buy all the salad-making supplies you'll need (or really, anything you want!) Enter to win the $100 Food Network Store Gift Card … […]

  45. Tiffany 07.14.2014

    This looks delicious, can’t wait to try it! I’m so glad I signed up for your weekly emails, I end up pinning almost every one that gets sent out in it. I also love all the Iowa mentions in the posts. And Happy Belated Birthday, it looks like we actually share the same bday!

  46. Tre Cavil 07.16.2014

    Looks like a bowl of perfection!!!!!!!!!

  47. […] after throwing some leftovers together for dinner last week. I had extra basil dressing from our Earth Bowl Salads that I combined with fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes that were nearing use or lose status. […]

  48. Morgan 07.23.2014

    I made this salad for dinner last night and it was great! I thought about adding a meat element (shrimp or salmon) but decided against it, and I’m glad I did- the salad was filling enough without the extra protein. The ONLY change I would made would be to substitute a crumbly cheese (i.e. feta or queso fresco) because the blocks of cheddar (and it could have been the cheese I used which was Cabot Vermont white cheddar) were heavy and seemed to get in the way near the bottom of the bowl. This salad was great and I’ll definitely be making it again in the future!

  49. Just made this with a girlfriend for lunch! The dressing was perfect, the vegetables were delicious and the walnuts were fantastic!! Only change we made was to the cheese. We used a Monterey Jack Jalapeno and Habanero cheese and we shredded it instead of cubing so that it would disperse throughout the salad better while using less.

  50. mary 08.09.2014

    This was a little more work than I thought it would be, but it was completely worth it! I loved the combination of the flavors, textures and colors. This was so good I would serve this to company. you could probably prep some of it ahead of time to make it go quicker for a week night.Thanks Kristin for the great recipe!

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