Best Spinach Salad Recipe
Popeye’s favorite go-to, spinach is a nutritional powerhouse when it comes to eating your leafy greens. And there is no better way to dish up this versatile vegetable than in a delicious and healthy salad. Served raw, low-carb and low-fat spinach retains all the health-boosting benefits of its vitamins and minerals, plus it has a deliciously earthy and bitter flavor that transforms a simple salad into something pretty special.
We take a look at the nutritional benefits of fresh, raw spinach and how you can whip up the best spinach salad in no time.
Types of Spinach
A versatile green vegetable that is used in cuisines around the world, spinach was first discovered in ancient Persia, now known as Iran, around 2,000 years ago. Its popularity spread through India and China before reaching the West between the 12th and 14th Centuries. There are now three main varieties of spinach most widely used in Western cooking – flat, savoy and semi-savoy.
Flat-leaf spinach is the most popular in the US, and is characterized by its smooth leaves, juicy, tender texture and a slightly sweet taste. Baby flat-leaf spinach is picked when the leaves are small and are really tender and tasty so perfect for a healthy spinach salad. Savoy – or curly leaf spinach – has crinkly, dark green leaves and has more bitter taste and crisp leaves, making it best for cooking rather than eating raw. While semi-savoy has the same crisp texture and taste, but the leaves are no so crinkly, making it easier to clean than full on savoy.
When choosing your spinach, always look for healthy vibrant green leaves with tender but sturdy stems and a fresh aroma. Yellowing or wilting spinach should be left on the grocery store shelf. Before using spinach, it will need a thorough rinse with fresh cold water to remove any dirt or grit.
Nutritional Value of Spinach
Spinach is a wonderful ingredient that can be eaten both cooked and raw. It is also fair to say this humble green is also a nutritional and low-fat superfood, packed with health-boosting nutrients, especially vitamins which are retained if eaten raw.
The nutritional profile of this dark leafy vegetable also makes it an important food source for skin, hair and bone health. Just one 100g serving provides 34% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C, yet only 23 calories. You also get a decent dose of vitamin B, A and K as well as iron – twice as much as other leafy greens – calcium, manganese and potassium. And let’s not forget its soluble fiber for a happy and healthy digestive system. Other potential health benefits of spinach include improving blood glucose control and helping to lower the risk of cancer.
Why It Works so Well in a Salad
Whether eaten cooked or raw, there is no denying the nutrient load of spinach, making it a truly versatile addition to any recipe. But when used fresh and raw in an easy spinach salad, you retain a higher level of vitamins, especially C and folate. Plus, you get a deliciously fresh and almost sweet taste that perfectly complements a host of other salad ingredients, including tomatoes, red onions, nuts, eggs and dairy.
Spinach is also super-easy to use in a healthy salad, with the denser leaves holding their shape, freshness and flavor and providing a deliciously textured base for a range of salad dressings and ingredients.
Classic Spinach Salad Recipe
Making a spinach salad shouldn’t be complicated and is a quick and easy way to bring together fresh and delicious ingredients for a healthy and tasty meal or side dish. And we think this classic spinach salad recipe is a fantastic place to start.
With just five ingredients, it takes around 10 minutes to make and can be eaten on its own or as a basis for other ingredients to make this recipe for spinach salad totally your own.
- 1 packet of fresh baby spinach
- Cup of roughly chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup red onion, sliced into rings
- 2 hardboiled eggs
- 5 strips of bacon, cooked and roughly shredded
For the Honey and Mustard Dressing
- 1tbsp French mustard
- 1tbsp honey
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- While your eggs are hard-boiling, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl
- Place your freshly washed spinach leaves into a large salad bowl
- Top with the tomatoes and sliced onion
- Peel and slice the hardboiled eggs
- Scatter the sliced eggs and shredded bacon over the spinach
- Optional – put the dressing into a small jug and warm for 20 seconds in a microwave
Drizzle (hot or cold) the dressing over the top of the salad
Serve with crusty bread.
Other Spinach Salad Ideas
Don’t just stop with our classic spinach recipe. Spinach works well with a host of ingredients so look inside your refrigerator and get spinach salad creative. Here are a few more ideas for inspiration:
- Feta and apple – replace the bacon in our classic spinach salad recipe with crumbled feta and sliced or grated apple
- Fig and blue cheese – make a basic spinach and red onion salad and top with crumbled strong blue cheese and sliced, ripe fresh figs. Drizzle with a red wine vinaigrette.
- Pinenut, bacon and pasta salad – add your fresh spinach to cooked fusilli or penne pasta and toss with toasted pinenuts and crispy bacon. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and plenty of grated parmesan.
- Spinach Caesar – replace the romaine lettuce with fresh spinach, then add sliced chicken and fresh bread croutons. Toss with a homemade Caesar salad dressing and parmesan shavings.
Storing Your Fresh Spinach
As with any salad, spinach salad is best eaten immediately so that you can enjoy and savor all those wonderful fresh and earthy flavors. Any leftover salad should be placed in the fridge and eaten the next day.
However, once opened and used, a packet of spinach does have a habit of quickly turning a bit slimy if not stored correctly. As well as a little slime, yellowing leaves and an off smell will quickly tell you that your spinach has gone past its best. To extend the life – and goodness – of spinach, pop it into a container (you can wrap the leaves in paper towel to absorb any excess moisture) and place it in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator where it should stay edible for up to 10 days.
Related Post: Best Food Storage Containers
Fresh spinach can also be frozen if you then intend to use it for cooking within six months. You can freeze spinach without blanching, or alternatively puree up the leaves with a little water and freeze in ice-cube trays. These spinach cubes are a great way to add this healthy little green to dressings, stews or even your daily veggie smoothie!
- Spinach – BBC GoodFood
- Raw Spinach Is Packed With Nutrients to Make You Strong – Livestrong