Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spinach Salad with Ginger Carrot Dressing

Colorful food is fun to eat, and dressing makes it delicious!
My college years were salad glory days.  Our dining hall made some pretty incredible food, all things considered, but the salad bar was the stuff of legends.  It had spinach, iceberg lettuce, soy beans, tofu, little baby corns, carrots, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, boiled eggs, hummus, and on and on and on.

It was popular to take two large bowls, fill one with veggies and dressing and use the other as a lid and shake the salad up for an even distribution of dressing and salads.  Like a McSalad Shaker, only big, and with more than three ingredients.  

While most people used a two handed approach to shaking the salads, I distinctly remember having a cross country teammate who bragged that he could shake these bowls with one hand... and he could. I was impressed.

However, his bragging about his salad shaking ability (shaking what his mama gave him as he put it) often prompted competitions of machismo which inevitably resulted in the other competitor dropping salad everywhere.  Our poor dining hall workers.

These days, I wouldn't be nearly as impressed with the size of his hands or his salad shaking abilities, because for a few months, I worked with a guy whose hands were the size of kleenex boxes.  He could probably palm a basketball the same way I can palm a softball.

As I was going to say, before I so rudely interrupted myself with reminiscing is that post-college, I never thought I would be able to make salads nearly as well as I did in college due to a lack of an appropriate salad bar.  

I don't know about you, but I don't think the 8 foot by 8 foot kitchen shared by four women in my first post college home wasn't exactly conducive to industrial sized salads.  I pretty much gave up salading altogether.

That was until I started reading food blogs about a year ago, and I noticed recipes for salads.  And the recipes weren't just dump everything into a bowl and shake.  It was actually a thoughtful combination of a reasonable number of ingredients.  "Self, you can do that," I thought to myself, and I could.

I didn't have to buy the entire produce section, just enough ingredients to make me a healthier person, and the rest could be rounded out with things I already had on hand.

This salad comes close to one that I would have eaten in college.  Just a basic bowl of crisp delicious veggies, with the crunchy addition of uncooked ramen.  It's really the dressing that makes this a salad worth sharing.  Rather than being primarily cream or vinegar based, this one is actually aromatic based, so its a really unique flavor.  The dressing is a combination of onions, garlic, carrots, ginger, fish sauce, vinegar and sesame oil pulsed together until it becomes a sauce.  The flavor is what would happen if ceasar dressing and ponzu sauce got married and had babies, but in a good way.

Be warned, you will want to brush your teeth after this one.

Like all salads, the best way to eat this would actually be to add some meat to the salad, but for the purpose of the post, I kept it simple.  I hope you enjoy!

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Spinach Salad with Ginger Carrot Dressing
Enjoy a delicious salad with an aromatics based dressing
  • 2 Carrots - Finely Grated- Divided
  • 1 Red Onion- Finely Sliced- Divided
  • 1 Clove Garlic- Pressed
  • 1.5 Inches Ginger Peeled
  • 1 Teaspoon Fish Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Rice Vinegar
  • Up to 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 3 Cups Spinach
  • 1 Yellow Bell Peppers- Diced
  • 1/2 Cucumber- Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Package Uncooked Ramen Noodles
1. In a food processor combine 1/2 of carrots, red onion, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. Pulse until smooth. Add water if necessary.2. Toss vegetables with dressing and enjoy
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 Servings

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