Spinach and berry salad: three ways

As you may have seen in my last post if you waded through all of the garden photos, I had a lot of spinach from my winter garden. It’s going to flower soon but I thought I’d share my favorite way to eat it—well, really three ways to eat it :

1. Spinach salad with strawberries and blueberries

Ingredients: 

fresh spinach, 1 1/2 to 2 cups

sliced strawberries, 1/2 to 1 cup

blueberries, 1/2 to 1 cup

(note: all measurements are approximate, I always just eyeball it)

This salad has a small story to it. It was the first food I prepared for myself after being in a major car accident seven years ago. I was still on crutches but out of the hospital, and an occupational therapist was helping me learn how to get around a kitchen with my injuries. She had me make a version of this salad as a project, to get me used to doing everyday tasks again.

I’d never had this salad before then, and it has become one of my favorites. It’s like the best of a green salad and a fruit salad combined. It is so refreshing. I know people who don’t like sweet things in their green salads, but these two berries are flavorful without being that sweet. And there’s something about the deep green, blue and red colors together that just looks nice. If you add enough berries, you almost don’t need dressing. Plus, I got lucky this week because strawberries and blueberries were both 99 cents at grocery outlet, so this salad was incredibly cheap to make.

2. Spinach salad with strawberries, blueberries, almonds and vinaigrette 

Additional ingredients:

sliced almonds, 1/2 cup

balsamic vinegar, 1/8 cup

extra virgin olive oil, 1/8 cup

Nuts go well with this salad—I probably would have preferred thinly sliced ones as opposed to these slivered ones, but that’s what I had on hand. I think walnuts or pecans would probably also go well in it.

I can’t remember what kind of vinaigrette was on this salad the first time I had it, but I usually make a balsamic one. Go easy on the dressing, as the salad is tasty as it is. I would love to try a lemon vinaigrette on it sometime, which seems like it would be a nice refreshing pairing with the salad—but I’m sure its obvious by now that I like all things lemon.

3. Spinach salad with strawberries, blueberries, almonds, vinaigrette, and grilled meat

Additional ingredients:

option 1:

1 small to medium sized steak

steak seasoning or salt and pepper, to taste

option 2:

1 small to medium sized chicken breast

soy sauce, 2 tablespoons

chicken seasoning, to taste

Yep—this salad is great on its own, but delicious with grilled meats. My dinning hall in the dorms regularly held “sizzling salad” nights where they would make whatever crazy combo of  salad vegetables you wanted and top it with the meat of your choice. This taught me that just about any salad tastes good with grilled meat on top.

In the version pictured, I just grilled a fresh steak on my George Foreman grill for a few minutes with steak seasons on either side, then let it sit for a few minutes before I cut it into strips. I meant to make it more medium rare than well done, but what can I say, I was multitasking in the kitchen and I’ve only used the foreman a few times. Either way, it tasted delicious.

Normally, I top this salad with chicken, using frozen chicken breasts I have on hand. It may sound like shoddy cooking to some, but here’s how get it ready fast: I microwave it. First, I defrost it according to however long it suggests (3-4 minutes usually) then I set it to full power and cook it (also about 3-4 minutes). I aim for a little bit on the shorter time for the cooking part, pierce it to see if the juices are running clear to indicate doneness, then add the soy sauce and chicken seasoning and zap it for another 30 seconds to a minute.

I know it sounds meh to cook chicken like that in a microwave, but what can I say? By the time I am hungry for this salad I often don’t want to wait too long for it. The chicken turns out tasty and I haven’t died yet! Depending on how much meat you add and how much salad you make, this can qualify for a meal in my book.

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