Sunday, January 20, 2008

Spinach Salad Recipe with Chicken and Warm Ginger Vinaigrette

Spinach SaladI love to buy one-pound tubs of baby spinach from Earthbound Farms, since spinach is one of the Superfoods, and I really enjoy the flavor of fresh spinach. Still, using up those huge tubs of spinach can be a challenge, and I'm always happy when I find another good spinach salad recipe. I found this idea for warm ginger vinaigrette for spinach salad in Fine Cooking Annual, a cookbook that's one of my all-time favorites. What's special here is using finely grated fresh ginger root in the dressing, and warming the dressing before it's drizzled over the salad. I'm not a purist about using fresh ginger, but in this recipe the slight bite of the fresh ginger really bumps up the flavor. If you only have ginger in a jar, the thick paste labeled ground ginger and sold near the Asian foods, will come closest to capturing the fresh ginger flavor.

I kept loving how this tasted but hating the photos, so I made it a few times before I got a photo I was happy with. The original recipe called for thin strips of pork which were sauteed before the red bell peppers and green onions were added to the pan. That version was delicious, and also one with strips of thinly-sliced sauteed chicken breast. But yesterday I had some leftover roast chicken so I made an even-easier version with already cooked chicken. This salad was just as tasty as the others, so make whichever variation that works for you. I think this would also be a great salad without meat, possibly with tofu replacing the meat, or another type of vegetable added with the red peppers.

Cutting the meat and vegetables into thin, same size strips is pretty important to the look of this salad, as well as making sure they cook quickly. (In Chinese cooking, this is called "symmetry of cut."

Spinach Salad with Warm Ginger Vinaigrette
(Makes 2 salads, probably with extra dressing for another time, recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Annual.)

Dressing Ingredients:
3 T olive oil
2 T rice vinegar (not seasoned rice vinegar, which contains sugar)
1 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp. Splenda, Agave Nectar, or sugar
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1 T finely grated fresh ginger (Use a microplane grater if you have one. If you only have ginger in a jar, I would increase the amount a bit.)

Salad ingredients:
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
3-4 green onions (scallions) cut into thin strips
1 thick piece breast meat from roasted chicken, cut into thin strips
(for variations, you can use 1 thick boneless pork chop or 1 thick boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips and then sauteed as you're making the salad)
1-2 tsp. olive oil for cooking vegetables (and meat if using raw meat)
4 large handfuls baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups spinach leaves)

In glass measuring cup, add olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sweetener of your choice, sesame and finely grated fresh ginger. Whisk together and set aside.

Heat a heavy non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. If using thin strips of raw pork chop or chicken, add that to pan first and saute 2-3 minutes, until meat is done and barely starting to brown. Remove meat from pan and add red bell peppers. Saute 2 minutes, then add green onion strips and saute 1-2 minutes more. Add cooked meat back into pan and heat 1-2 minutes more. (You can add the cooked chicken and warm it for a minute or two at this point if desired. It's very important to use a non-stick pan if you plan to do that. You could also just let the cooked chicken come to room temperature and arrange it on top of the salad.)

Pile spinach on two serving plates, and use a turner to arrange sauteed vegetables and meat on top of spinach. Pour dressing into frying pan, increase heat a little and cook 1-2 minutes, until dressing is hot and fragrant. Use a spoon to drizzle desired amount of dressing over each salad. (You may not need all the dressing. Leftover dressing can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for a few days.) Serve immediately.

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South Beach Suggestions:
Made with lean chicken or pork, heart-healthy olive oil, and using Splenda, this would be a great main-course salad for any phase of the South Beach Diet. For phase 2 or 3 you could use Agave Nectar, a natural sweetener that's low on the glycemic index.

A Surprise from the Recipe Archives:
When I checked for other spinach salad recipes, I was surprised to see that I'd created a very similar dressing recipe long before I bought this cookbook and used it on Asian Spinach Salad Many Ways and Asian Spinach Salad with Chicken, Mushrooms, Peppers, and Almonds. What makes the dressing combination even better in this recipe is the grated fresh ginger, and warming the dressing before it's drizzled over the salad.

More Ideas for Using Fresh Spinach:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Spinach and Sorrel Salad with Pecans and Goat Cheese
Asian Spinach Salad with Shrimp, Red Pepper, and Mushrooms
Spinach Salad with Bacon and Feta
Thanksgiving Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat cheese
Spinach Salad Recipe with Marinated Garbanzo Beans and Feta Cheese
Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Avocado from What's For Lunch Honey
Spinach and Fig Salad from Cooking with Amy
Ruby Red Grapefruit and Baby Spinach Salad from A Wee Bit of Cooking
Ina's Pesto Pea Spinach Salad from Tasting Spoons
Spinach Salad with White Stilton with Apricots from Albion Cooks
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More to Chew On:


  1. i love this unusual vinaigrette recipe. thanks.

  2. What a brilliant idea! Thanks!

  3. K,

    I love those same earthbound buckets-o-mesclun... I cant wait for things to thaw so I can grow my own again!

    I could eat an old tire if it had ginger on it, this must be super-divine!


  4. Wow you're such a great inspiration for spinach recipes! I like light dishes and spinach, your recipe is so on my to do list for next week.
    Thank you!

  5. Kalyn, so lovely to be back here. I love fresh spinach. to me it is one of the loveliest fresh leaves for salads.

  6. Kalyn, this sounds really good. I love spinach salads and I love fresh ginger!

  7. I've been on a spinach thing, too. Of all of the dark leafy greens, spinach is the mildest and the one I like best. It's also versatile, works well cooked or raw, and is available year round. The warm ginger dressing sounds delicious.

  8. I love the flavour combinations...this would make a super lunch...


  9. This is a beautiful little dish in the dead of winter. I remember what green things look like .... :)

  10. the picture is refreshing and so is the salad..
    this can get me back to eating spinach...
    I like the way you give importance to a picture...

  11. Great idea - warm dressing, cold spinach! This sounds perfect for Winter salads Kalyn.

  12. I love spinach in salads. It just gives such an awesome flavor! What I really like here is the ginger vinaigrette - perfect for my taste!

  13. This looks delicious! Thanks Kalyn.

  14. Nice looking salad. The ginger dressing sounds really tasty.

  15. This looks lovely. And fresh ginger is a favorite of mine. Plus, it's a healthy little addition. Thanks!

  16. kalyn, i will try this with out meat. i have so much spinach, it's crazy! thanks for the great idea, off to make dressing!

  17. yum! yes, this is exactly what i need. delicious!

  18. I can't get enough fresh spinach lately. It's been so beautiful at the market. I just had a spinach and orange salad this past weekend, and I'll be trying this one later this week!

  19. the salad does look lovely. And when a dish is's easy to make it as often as it takes to get a great shot!

    As for fresh ginger...I always have some on hand. It really does bring the most boring of dishes to life.

    Thanks for sharing.

  20. I like this one very much. Each meat sounds like a new and wonderful salad. But I think I'd try this first without meal and use chickpeas.

  21. This is why I love your blog. I'm supposed to be on a "half-diet" (i.e. I need to lose some weight so figure that the odd salad might help, heh) and have ran out of inspiration. But you inspire me!

  22. Sounds great. I want to try and make the dressing for one of my salads. It seems like this dressing would go good with that Chicken Chopstick type of salad.

    Sharona May

  23. The pictures made me hungry--so they did their job beautifully. :)


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