Tag Archives: spinach salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

Lentils are misunderstood.  They get such a bad rap for being boring, or mushy, or tasteless.  But I love them .  The wonderful thing about lentils is they are so versatile.  Beautiful in soup, but light and small enough to work well in salads as well.  I think part of the problem is that people tend to overcook them.  When boiled to mush, lentils can be underwhelming.  But I cook them just long enough to soften (usually about 25 minutes), leaving them tender but firm.  They have a nice delicate flavor that is enhanced by pretty much anything you combine with it, and they work well with a variety of spices and flavors.  Add to that the health benefits of this high-fiber, high-protein, gluten-free, low cal, zero fat food and in my mind, you’ve got a winner.

You can use any kind of lentils for this salad (I went with the typical greenish brown French lentils).  If you are in a hurry and you are lucky enough to live by a Trader Joe’s, they even sell steamed lentils in their refrigerated section that are delicious and ready to toss into whatever soup, salad or other creation you have in mind.  It just doesn’t get any easier than that.

Rustic spinach lentil salad

Rustic spinach lentil salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

1 cup lentils
4 cups water
Olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms (I used half baby bellas and half button mushrooms), cut into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Salt & pepper
2 cups baby spinach

Bring the water to a boil, add lentils.  Turn down to medium low and cook 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.  Drain and transfer to a salad bowl. Set aside to cool a bit.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.  Add half the mushrooms (don’t crowd the pan).  Allow to cook a couple of minutes without stirring to get some good color on them.  Stir and cook another couple of minutes.  Remove from pan and repeat with the other half of the mushrooms.  Add first batch of mushrooms back in, add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook an additional minute.  Add to lentils.  Add lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt & pepper, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.  Add spinach, toss and serve.

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

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Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

A fruitful (ha) trip to farmers market resulted in a whole counter full of veggies and me wondering how the heck I was going to eat them all before they went bad.  And more importantly, where the heck to put them all in the meantime.  I got a good start on solving both problems by throwing together this wonderful  main dish salad for dinner.

This time of year I’m always happy to find spring onions at the market.  I never see them at the store for some reason.  But I love them.

Spring onions.  Like scallions on steroids.  You can eat both the green and white parts.

Spring onions. Like scallions on steroids. You can eat both the green and white parts.

If you can’t find spring onions, feel free to sub red onion or scallions instead.  For the potatoes, I found tiny pebble sized potatoes but you can use bigger new potatoes if you can’t find the tiny ones.  Just half or quarter them to make bite sized pieces.

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

6-8 cups fresh spinach leaves, big stems removed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 cups baby potatoes (the smallest ones you can find, cut in half if needed to make bite size)
3 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 spring onions, divided into white and green parts
1 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tsp. raw sugar
1 tsp. coarse dijon mustard
3-4 tsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

In a small saucepan, cover potatoes in water and bring to a boil.  Boil 8-10 minutes until fork tender but not mushy.  Drain and set aside.

Wash spinach and pat dry, remove any large tough stems.  Put in a big serving bowl.

Yummy fresh spinach from farmer's market.

Yummy fresh spinach from farmer’s market.

In a small bowl whisk together sugar, dijon and vinegar.  Add a pinch of salt & pepper.  In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add white parts of onions and sauté 1-2 minutes.  Add cabbage and green parts on onions and sauté another minute.

A quick sauté on the veggies to soften just a bit and bring out the flavor.

A quick sauté on the veggies to soften just a bit and bring out the flavor.

Add vinegar mixture and potatoes to skillet and toss to combine.  Cook and stir gently 30 seconds or so to heat through and let the vinaigrette permeate all the veggies.  Pour over the spinach and add tomatoes.  Toss everything together.  Serve warm.  Makes 4 main dish servings or 6-8 side servings.

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Hearty Spinach Salad

I grew up thinking spinach was disgusting.  And it was.  Because the spinach of my youth looked a lot like this:

Canned Spinach. Blech!

Nothing can make that look or taste appetizing to me.  And don’t even get me started on the nasty smell.  All of the Popeye cartoons in the world would still not make me want to eat it. Canned spinach is the reason kids hate vegetables.

Luckily, as often happens, in my food journey somewhere along the line I discovered that spinach actually comes from a plant, not a can.  And the fresh stuff is pretty darn good!  In fact, it’s one of my favorite ingredients, and not just for salad.  You can chop up fresh spinach and put it in just about anything, from casseroles and omelets to meatloaf.

I haven’t eaten bacon since before we started Project Veggie.  You could make this without it (just saute the onions in a little butter or olive oil instead).  But I didn’t do that.  I miss bacon sometimes.  And combined with the spinach and apple juice and all the other good stuff in here, it was REALLY good. The potatoes, bacon and eggs also give this salad some nice substance, making it perfect for a main dish.

Hearty Spinach Salad. Much better!

Hearty Spinach Salad

1 – 10 oz. package fresh baby spinach
4-6 small red potatoes, cooked and diced
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2-4 bacon strips
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine spinach, potatoes, eggs, and mushrooms in large salad bowl.  Cook bacon and remove to drain on paper towels.  Cook onion in bacon drippings until tender.  Combine cornstarch, apple juice, vinegar, sugar and pepper.  Stir into skillet with onions.  Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened and bubbly.  Pour over spinach mixture.  Crumble bacon on top and toss to combine.

Served with french bread on the side. Make sure you dig down and get all the good stuff from the bottom of the bowl!

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