Hello summer! Okay, so technically it’s not summer yet, but Ottawa has been on fire these last few days and even those of us who don’t like the summer, can’t help but get excited with a change in scenery. My farmers’ market is open and though not in full bloom yet, the early local produce is promising and builds much anticipation.
To celebrate, I made this salad. The inspiration comes from a prepared salad that my husband and I enjoy from my local grocery store. I have switched up some of the key ingredients to suit my tastes and have paired it with a tangerine vinaigrette instead of their lemony one.
I love everything about this salad. Baby spinach is definitely the star and it gets a little help from the red cabbage, red onion, and carrot. For substance, you’ll find toasted pecans, black sesame seeds and sesame sticks. If you’ve never had sesame sticks in a salad, you must absolutely experiment. They act like croutons providing a nice crunch, but with a depth of flavour that far surpasses any bread crouton. Then, for the crowning glory, there’s the wedges of tangerines. Ensure that you include enough tangerines to suffice for every bite; the tangerines really do make the salad. Tangerines and spinach were made for each other with the tangerines providing juiciness, sweetness and citrus. The vinaigrette, which includes my secret ingredient, sesame paste, is both creamy and light and it tickles my tongue. It’s such a beautiful salad. I pair it with pre-marinated tofu skewers for a light, but substantial dinner.
I have provided some rough estimates, in terms of ingredients intentionally. Play with the dimensions and build something that works for you. In general, my rule is, it’s a spinach salad, so spinach should be the most abundant ingredient. I include about half as much of shredded red cabbage and a quarter as much of carrot. I go minimal with the red onion, but add just enough for taste. Then the fun part begins. I play with decorating the salad with the remaining ingredients: black sesame seeds, tangerine wedges, pecans, and sesame sticks.
It’s a play of textures, tastes, consistencies and colour, so you are in a for a treat. I like this salad so much that when I make it, I double the vinaigrette and freeze it in batches for future use. Yes, you can freeze vinaigrettes; this one happens to freeze very well. I always have spinach in the house, so this is my back-up salad for the week. I can’t think of a more exciting salad that I make. Here’s to the long awaited summer season.
Serves 2 (with vinaigrette leftover)
|Spinach, baby||140 g|
|Cabbage, red, shredded||1:2 (cabbage:spinach)|
|Carrot, shredded||1:2 (carrot:cabbage) Approximately half a carrot|
|Onion, red, thinly sliced|
|Pecans, whole, toasted||1/4 cup|
|Seeds, sesame, black|
|Sesame sticks||1/4 cup|
|Tangerines, peeled, skins removed from wedges||1-2|
|Juice, tangerine||3 tbsp (1-2 tangerines)|
|Juice, lemon||2 tbsp|
|Olive oil||6 tbsp|
|Black pepper||1/4 tsp|
|Garlic, clove, minced||1|
|Mustard, Dijon||2 tsp|
|Sesame Paste||1/2 tbsp|
1. For the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a small jar/bowl and mix well.
2. To toast the pecans, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add pecans and toss gently every couple of minutes until toasted. Note, you should not be walking away from the stove. Nuts brown quickly and can burn easily.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, shredded cabbage, carrot, and sliced red onion.
4. Add dressing and mix well. Check seasoning. You may need to add salt.
5. Divide salad onto two plates. Garnish with toasted pecans, tangerine wedges, sesame sticks, and black sesame seeds.