Let me start by saying this salad is delicious and you need to make it. It’s so good in fact I made it twice in three days…and we’re having it again tonight for dinner. It’s easy, even for those cooking-challenged people. All the ingredients are easy to find. It’s very pretty. And it’s good for you. Make it.
Most good salads start with a base. In this case it’s spinach. Spinach is without a doubt, one of the most versatile vegetables – it’s also the healthiest. When served raw in a salad its subtle flavor allows it to be paired with almost anything. Spinach is top of the list of the world’s healthiest vegetable – beating the much acclaimed, and in my opinion, over-rated kale. I have it in my vegetable juice every morning. I love it for breakfast lightly steamed with eggs. Blended up in a soup. And of course in salads. You’ll see it quite often here on my blog. I love it.
You know how Vitamin K is good for your bones? Of course you do. Eat one cup of un-cooked baby spinach leaves and you’ve just had about 900% of your daily requirement of Vitamin K. Spinach is also high in Vitamin A, manganese, folate, iron, Vitamin C, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories. Calorie for calorie, spinach provides more nutrients than any other food. It’s taken a bit of a back seat to kale of late. The trouble with food trends – like the kale, quinoa, cauliflower ones that have been consuming Instagram is they just become annoying after awhile. And are mostly overrated.
Back to this fabulous salad…I used fresh oranges and segmented them (as opposed to the mandarin segments in a can). The directions for segmenting the oranges if you’re not too sure how to do it, are with the recipe below. If that’s too much fuss for you then just chop the oranges but if you can master segmenting citrus, you’ll be well rewarded…the texture is a beautiful thing. You could also mix some ruby-red grapefruit in the salad too. If the mood takes you.
To me the making of a good salad is not just the freshest of ingredients and the clever flavor combinations – it’s the dressing. Not the bottled shit. I’m talking the real, make-at-home stuff. Salad dressing is the easiest thing in the world to make so don’t waste your money on the crappy bottled stuff.
The main flavor profile in this salad dressing is wasabi. Now if you’re a little timid with wasabi then start with about half as much as the recipe states. The wasabi in the tube (which I used) is less aggressive than wasabi paste you make yourself. I say just go for it. The wasabi marries perfectly with the saltiness of the soy sauce (FYI – Kikkoman’s soy sauce is the best), the nutty flavor of sesame oil and this is all sweetened with the deep, caramel flavor of brown sugar. It’s glorious!
Would you believe I shot this salad outside in almost monsoon-like conditions? Mere inches from where I was shooting the rain was coming down so hard you could hardly see down the street. If I wasn’t so darn hot and sticky and concerned about the camera and monitor getting wet I would have enjoyed the deluge. The sun is out now though making it even steamier than it already was…goody! Well at least I don’t have to cook tonight, dinner is already made. Tonight I’m going to kick-back, enjoy this salad, drink some chardonnay and enjoy watching The Voice – BEST SEASON EVER. Happy Monday everyone xo.
- WASABI SESAME DRESSING
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon wasabi paste
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- CHICKEN, SPINACH, ORANGE & CASHEW SALAD
- 2 skinless, boneless breasts (about 12 oz/340g total weight)
- 6 cups baby spinach leaves
- 2 oranges, segmented*
- 1 sweet red pepper (capsicum), thinly sliced**
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 to 2 small cucumbers, thinly slice
- 1/4 cup toasted cashews
- To make the dressing: Combine all ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well to combine.
- To make the salad: Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally; place in re-sealable bag. Add half the dressing. Turn to thoroughly coat chicken. If time permits, refrigerate 1 hour.
- Preheat barbecue to medium-high heat. Cook chicken on greased barbecue rack for 3 to 4 minutes per side depending on thickness of chicken. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into thin strips.
- Arrange spinach leaves, orange segments, red pepper, onion and cucumber on serving plates. Arrange chicken on top; drizzle with dressing.
- Sprinkle with cashews. Serves 2 to 3.
- *segmenting oranges
- The reason for segmenting oranges is to release the succulent flesh between the membranes.
- To segment an orange, cut both ends from orange.
- Place orange, cut-side down, on a cutting board. Using a utility or paring knife, cut down and around the fruit, following the shape of the orange and removing as much of the white pith with the skin as possible.
- Place a bowl underneath the orange catch any juice. Cut between the membranes of each segment and let them drop into the bowl.
- ** Or use about 3 of those cute small peppers you can buy in bags of mixed colors.