the perfect spinach salad
October 18, 2007 7:02 PM   Subscribe

How do you make the perfect spinach salad?

I'm becoming a big fan, and I'd love to hear how you build yours.
posted by Espoo2 to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
Spinach, roasted beets, blue cheese, a garlicky sherry vinaigrette.
posted by jocelmeow at 7:06 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I either resist overthinking, and just do spinach, mushroom, chopped egg; maybe a wee bit of onion, maybe croutons, or I do overthink it, and it's wilted (baby) spinach, plum tomatoes, warm balsamic dressing, and, oddly, some chunks of fried potatoes.
posted by kmennie at 7:07 PM on October 18, 2007

spinach, maple bacon dressing, gorgonzola, small candied nuts, strawberries, beets, mandarin oranges.
posted by jessamyn at 7:11 PM on October 18, 2007

My favorite salad of all time ever...
Spinach, Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts, and just lemon juice,olive oil and salt and Pepper
posted by smithygreg at 7:13 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Kind of more a pasta salad, but..

Put on a pot of water, and cook up some penne pasta.
Pan fried chicken, diced, seasoned with paprika - optionally add rosemary and pinch of time. Sweet basil can work well too.
Cashews, lots of them. Unsalted.
Sundried tomatoes, finely diced.
Kalamata Olives
Feta cheese, just a little.
Fry them all together, then add some good balsamic dressing. Throw in your spinach, and your drained pasta, take it off the heat and give it a good mix. Serve flat on a plate with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette.

I ate this for a good week when I was broke and discovered I only had the following deli style ingredients, which are inevitably the last thing you run out of.

The sweetness of the cashews (get unsalted) goes really well against the balsamic and the sun dried tomatoes, and the spinach, slightly wilted, gives it the right texture.

Enjoy with a good red :)
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 7:15 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, seconding citrus of some sort. It makes a really wonderful combination.

Basically, I've always felt that spinach has a very neutral, very green flavor and it's texture is just slightly starchy. So you want other ingredients that offset that. So citrus works really good for that purpose, adding a little bit of acidity and sweetness. Walnuts are also good for this, they add the bitterness not present in spinach that you'd find in other lettuce greens.

I'm not certain on this but it seems like spinach doesn't hold up quite as well as other lettuces do, so if you're going to use a dressing, toss it immediately before serving, don't let it soak, unless you want the leaves to go soft.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:16 PM on October 18, 2007

Spinach and Avocado add a citrus flavored vinaigrette just before serving
posted by kanemano at 7:20 PM on October 18, 2007

Spinach, sliced strawberries, goat cheese, candied pecans, balsamic vinaigrette.
posted by Evangeline at 7:22 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

We do it real simple with slivered red onion, shaved Parmesan cheese, croutons and a homemade honey balsamic dressings.
posted by mmascolino at 7:22 PM on October 18, 2007

All of the above sound like good suggestions, but they can all be improved with the addition of bacon.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:38 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Spinach, walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, pear slices, balsamic vinaigrette.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 7:39 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

(And no, that's not any better with bacon.)
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 7:40 PM on October 18, 2007

Keep it simple. Spinach, nice fresh strawberries, a little balsamic vinaigrette (more vinegar than oil), and fresh ground black pepper.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:40 PM on October 18, 2007

Oh, and toasted pecans. Sorry.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:41 PM on October 18, 2007

Spinach, mushrooms, slab bacon trimmed of most fat, with a curry vinaigrette* . Great salad for tonight, briefly saute leftovers for lunch the next day.

* 6 Tbsgood olive oil
2 Tbs light (ie rice wine) vinagar
1 Tbs curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste

The curry powder acts as an emulsifier. Tricky.
posted by shothotbot at 7:50 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

My personal favorite in the spinach + + + category is: spinach + toasted almonds + diced green apple + blue cheese

though spinach + pine nuts + dried cranberries + goat cheese also works.

posted by bl1nk at 7:53 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

oops, that was spinach + nut + fruit + dressing/cheese. Keep on forgetting not to encapsulate stuff in tags.
posted by bl1nk at 7:53 PM on October 18, 2007

Spinach, diced roasted beets, grilled chicken slices,a few dollops of goat cheese, toasted pecans or walnuts (chopped or not), topped with homemade shredded carrot/ginger/miso dressing.
posted by Caviar at 7:54 PM on October 18, 2007

fry up 3-4 slices of bacon, set bacon to dry on towel. pour off most of the bacon fat, leaving enough to muddle the spinach. put two big handfuls of washed, dried, trimmed fresh spinach (baby spinach doublegood) in the pan where you just fried the bacon. also toss in a large handful of crumbled cheese (goat and feta work great here) and some pecans or walnuts, stir this for a minute with one hand while you crumble the bacon with the other, add crumbled bacon, serve to plates, pour a good balsamic vinegar over it.
posted by bruce at 8:00 PM on October 18, 2007

Along kanemano's tip, I found this recipe via MeFi, and it's soooooooo good. (And so easy.) Probably one of my favorite meals now.

The salad is great on it's own but really shines with the pork, and the combination of sweet brown sugar + tabasco + oranges + lemon/curry dressing is out of this world. Thank you a million to whatever MeFite originally linked to that.
posted by Brittanie at 8:15 PM on October 18, 2007

along the lines of the 'spinach plus fruit plus...' lines already posited, try:

mandarine segments (tinned are fine if not in season)
spring onion
snow peas

with an oil/vinegar/sugar/tabasco/pinch of salt dressing
posted by prettypretty at 8:21 PM on October 18, 2007

I do it like this, proportions to taste but quantities below assume two servings:

Wash spinach (3-4 cups, packed).
Thinly slice red onion (1/3).
Thinly slice button mushrooms (6-8 medium).
Hardboil (1) egg and dice.

Dice bacon (3 strips) and fry in a small pan.

Reserve cooked bacon.

To bacon grease add sugar (1TB--taste every thing along the way) and cider vinegar (1/4 cup, but remember: taste and adjust) and some cracked black pepper.

When the bubbling dressing tastes just so, pour over spinach, red onion, mushrooms and toss to wilt.

Plate and garnish with bacon and egg.

posted by donovan at 8:36 PM on October 18, 2007

Oh, maybe not clear but mix the dressing in the pan over the flame--you're cooking a dressing with the fat (bacon grease), acid (cider vinegar) and sweet (sugar, you could use honey) . . . this is the critical part--tweak and adjust away until the flavor profile suits you (in our household we lean toward the sour, but some might like the sweet) . . . the dressing is everything as you're going to wilt the spinach and coat the other veg.
posted by donovan at 8:39 PM on October 18, 2007

A little ground mustard in the balsamic vinaigrette is nice.
posted by nicwolff at 8:42 PM on October 18, 2007

Start with a bag of that nice clean baby spinach.

Cut up a package of mushrooms relatively thin but not too thin to have bite. Also chop up an onion. Mix all 3 of these ingredients together.

Add some walnut oil and toss, and then add a sparing amount of balsamic vinegar and toss again. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.
posted by zadcat at 8:44 PM on October 18, 2007

I'm in the avocado and citrus camp. I do baby spinach with avocado, grapefruit chunks (with the membranes removed), raw onion, a citrusy dressing and spicy almonds. this is based on a recipe in the Millennium cookbook, and is delicious.
posted by lgyre at 10:47 PM on October 18, 2007

A few medallions of baked goat cheese (encrusted in fresh breadcrumbs), and a light golden balsamic vinagerette, and a bit of black pepper. I want one!
posted by Asherah at 11:28 PM on October 18, 2007

Spinach, strawberries, mozzarella, candied pecans/walnuts and a vinagrette made with red wine vinegar.
posted by wallaby at 3:32 AM on October 19, 2007

a spinach salad is always good with something sweet, something salty, something tangy, and something rich.

so: dried cranberries, walnuts, vinaigrette, goat cheese
or: apples, bacon bits, mustard vinaigrette, bleu cheese
or: golden raisins, pine nuts, balsamic vinaigrette, gorgonzola

mix, match as you like.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:13 AM on October 19, 2007

Vegan Spinach Salad

Sliced Mushrooms
Chopped Red Bell Peppers
Chopped Onion
Pine Nuts
Amy's Organic Honey Mustard Dressing

Toss well and happy eating!~
posted by letahl at 6:01 AM on October 19, 2007

I enjoy quality spinach straight up. Even I think that's kinda weird, though.
posted by backupjesus at 6:10 AM on October 19, 2007

My favorite:
baby spinach
sliced apple (whatever is best, I usually go for macs or galas)
lemon vinaigrette (fresh lemon juice, a dab of dijon mustard, a small squirt of honey, s & p, olive oil)
I'll also add good quality canned tuna if I want to make it a meal.

My stepmom made this the other day and I couldn't get enough of it:
fresh spinach (not baby)
apple chunks
Wilted the above (just put it in a colander over boiling water)
Tossed with roasted pumpkin seeds and a very light balsamic vinaigrette.

craving spinach now!
posted by CiaoMela at 6:39 AM on October 19, 2007

Sliced Mushrooms
Diced Red Bell Pepper
Shredded Carrots
Mandarin Oranges
Chopped Pecans
Dried Cranberries or Cherries
Crumbled Feta or Gorgonzola
Kraft Tangy Tomato Bacon Salad Dressing

May vary based on what's in the fridge.
posted by jferg at 8:56 AM on October 19, 2007

Oh, and to make it even better, grill a nice piece of steak to medium rare, let rest, slice thin, and put on top.
posted by jferg at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2007

Baby spinach
Blackened salmon (put the whole fillet on top of the assembled salad)
Razor-thin sliced red onion
Sliced raw mushrooms
Sliced medium-boiled egg
Chopped bacon (cooked until crisp, but not burnt!)
Honey mustard dressing (make your own) (and be sure to toss the dressing into the salad, because you don't actually need that much dressing)

And as with any dish, the higher quality and fresher your ingredients are, the more you'll enjoy it.
posted by J-Train at 9:20 AM on October 19, 2007

Response by poster: awesome answers guys, thanks.

I made one last night, after reading a few replies. Sliced avocado, dried cranberries and nuts, a little bit of diced tomato, crumbled bacon, and balsamic vinaigrette.

So many great ideas here, I think I'll have another one tonight.
posted by Espoo2 at 11:09 AM on October 19, 2007

Baby spinach, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, blush wine vinaigrette. Ridiculously simple, but gets endlgess queries.
posted by moira at 1:32 PM on October 19, 2007

Spinach, sunflower seeds, sliced cucumber, red onion, and blue cheese dressing.
posted by wafaa at 1:53 PM on October 19, 2007

1. Baby spinach, torn up chunks of ripe red plums, herbed goat cheese, pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with a basic oil/vinegar dressing.


2. Spinach, a few strips of crispy bacon chopped up, chopped up hard boiled egg. Then for dressing, take grainy mustard and (preferably)mix with homemade mayo, mix together. If desired, mix in one hardboiled egg yolk and some bacon drippings to this mixture (heart attack city, but delicious). Season as desired.
posted by SassHat at 11:16 PM on October 23, 2007

I particularly like this one:

Never failed me!
posted by IZ at 3:19 AM on October 25, 2007

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