I have a sweet tooth. My dream three-course meal would be three different desserts. I really only eat main course because I can follow it with pudding, and any way to smuggle sweet things into the main course is a great bonus. This salad is a wonderful solution. Its main ingredient is spinach, so is obviously meant as a main course, but on a number of occasions my guests have requested that it stay out for dessert because of its sweetness and general deliciousness.
I’m loving the strawberries this year! Last year I mostly made this salad using mango, which works really well, but the strawberries marginally beat mango when combined with the sharpness of the dressing. A tip for perfectly sweet berries: take them out of the fridge, wash them, and leave them to come to room temperature for at least 4 hours before serving them. If you’re on a tight budget or don’t have fresh fruit, just grab a big handful of raisins or dried cranberries. It doesn’t make as decadent a salad, but works well enough.
200g bag spinach
200g punnet strawberries, thickly sliced
50g caster sugar
50ml white wine vinegar
50ml vegetable oil
1 tsp each poppy seeds and sesame seeds (optional)
Serves 6 as a side
Takes 5 minutes to make
Put the spinach and strawberries in a salad bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and vinegar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the vegetable oil, mix, and then drizzle over the top of the salad. Finally sprinkle over the seeds, toss and serve. Easy and wonderful!
Sometimes I find myself heading to work at late notice, and I need to make something quick, satisfying and portable to eat. This salad does the trick. It’s got punchy flavours, a nice range of textures and colours, and some bite. You don’t feel sorry for yourself when you get it out because it looks so pretty. Shaking it around in a tupperware as you get from A to B only makes it better.
300g dried pasta
8 sun dried tomatoes
150g spinach (roughly – as much as you have)
4 tbsp grated vegetarian parmesan
a handful of basil leaves
optional extras: toasted pine nuts, capers, fresh tomatoes, avocado, chilli flakes, or really anything you have lying around
Takes 15 minutes to make
Stage one: Fill the kettle and get out the pasta and sun dried tomatoes. I use packet sun dried tomatoes because I find them easier to deal with and store, but that may just be me. I’m telling you this because when the kettle has boiled and you start to boil the pasta, you put sun dried tomatoes from a packet in a ramekin and pour boiling water over them too. This will make the tomatoes plump and go nice and soft, but you don’t need to do this with tomatoes that have been stored in oil. Now leave them to cook/soak.
Stage two: Time to prep all the other ingredients. Wash the spinach and distribute between bowls/tupperwares. Slice the basil. Grate the parmesan. Get out the rest of the ingredients and any added extras. Just before the pasta is done, drain the sun dried tomatoes and roughly chop them.
Stage three: Drain the pasta. Distribute onto the spinach. The sprinkle the tomatoes, basil, parmesan and added extras on top. Drizzle on olive oil (about 1 tbsp per serving) and lemon juice (about 1 tsp per serving), and season.