Spinach Salad with Chicken and Warm Ginger Vinaigrette
I 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.)
3 T olive oil
2 T rice vinegar (not seasoned rice vinegar, which contains sugar)
1 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sweetener of your choice
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.)
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)
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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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
A Surprise from the Recipe Archives:
More Ideas for Using Fresh Spinach:
Asian Spinach Salad with Shrimp, Red Pepper, and Mushrooms from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Avocado from What’s For Lunch Honey
Spinach Salad with Bacon and Feta from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Spinach and Fig Salad from Cooking with Amy
Thanksgiving Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese from Kalyn’s Kitchen