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January, 2010

Spinach Salad with Blueberries Gala Apples and Hazelnuts in Honey Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

By Heidi Allison

This sophisticated, elegant salad couldn’t be easier--even busy students and people who don’t cook will master it
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No skill other than placing all the ingredients in a single bowl is required—even for the dressing! The only caveat is to follow the order given in the recipe—the Meyer lemon juice must coat the spinach leaves before the honey and oil are added, ensuring that those ingredients dissolve properly. This crucial step guarantees you won’t need to separately whisk salad dressing ingredients together and that means less cleanup too!

Not only is this recipe a snap to make, it’s incredibly healthy. Calorie for calorie, spinach provides more nutrients than any other food. Researchers have identified at least 13 different flavinoid compounds in spinach that function as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents. Special spinach extracts, known as methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides, slow down the cell division in stomach cancer and reduce skin cancer. The carotenoid, neoxanthin, causes prostate cancer cells to self-destruct, and prevents their replication. High levels of the flavinoid, Kaempferol, were linked to a 40% reduction in ovarian cancer in women. Its hefty amounts of vitamin K keep osteoclasts in check—the cells that break down bone. Spinach also maintains bone health by activating osteocalcin, a protein that anchors calcium molecules inside the bone. Moreover, spinach is a powerhouse of cardioprotective vitamins and minerals which appear to protect the brain from oxidative stress.

From a chef’s point of view, the Honey Meyer Lemon Dressing provides the perfect counterpoint flavors to offset the slightly bitter taste of the spinach. The less acidic and sweeter taste of the Meyer lemon, which is a cross between a mandarin orange and a Eureka lemon, seduces your palate rather than jarring it, and the roasted pistachio oil lends a subtle, nutty flavor in addition to a delightful green color which complements the spinach. Blueberries provide a lovely tart note and the soft gala apple skins add a bit of textural crunch. Topped with elegant hazelnuts, this salad will surprise you!

Spinach Salad with Blueberries, Gala Apples and Hazelnuts in Honey Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Spinach Salad with Blueberries, Gala Apples and Hazelnuts in Honey Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves: 2
10 raw hazelnuts
3 cups organic baby spinach, washed and dried (1 6 oz. bag)
2/3 cup blueberries
1 large Gala apple
1 large Meyer lemon
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. roasted pistachio oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:
Place hazelnuts between 2 sheets of wax paper and gently hit with a heavy mallet to break up into small pieces, and set aside. Place washed spinach in a large bowl and top with blueberries. Using a Japanese Benriner or mandoline, insert the ¼-inch cutting blade and cut apple skin into ¼-inch matchsticks; then toss over top of salad. Cut Meyer lemon in half and squeeze juice over salad. Pour honey over salad and gently toss with tongs 1or 2 times to coat leaves. Pour pistachio oil over greens and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently with tongs again and place in serving bowls. Top with chopped hazelnuts and serve immediately.