Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sweet-Sour Spinach Salad

I prepared this salad ahead of time to bring to my grandparents’ house for Christmas Day dinner, per my grandma’s request. I first made this salad for Thanksgiving dinner last year, and the family raved about it. I chose the salad because it’s low-fat, I could easily substitute Splenda in the dressing for my grandpa (who loves spinach), and my grandma loves vegetable salads, but is allergic to lettuce.

This recipe was printed in Light & Tasty magazine, and the only notable change I made was to use Splenda or another sugar substitute in the dressing to make this more diabetic friendly. (You can also find some sugar-free ketchups, but these haven’t appeared on my grocery shelves just yet.)

This salad is obviously very healthy; I’ve heard that a good rule of thumb for healthful eating is to eat a rainbow of food colors to ensure you’re getting all your nutrients. (This is different from tasting the rainbow that is Skittles, just FYI.) This salad has quite the eyeful of color when it’s assembled, as you can see even in the prep stage.

The salad has many elements of the classic spinach and bacon salad – spinach, mushrooms, bacon, red onion, and a tangy, Catalina-like dressing. The addition of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) is interesting; they’re a very nutty bean, so they make a good substitute for nuts or croutons. And although I’m a huge, huge fan of bacon, you can easily leave it out here for a delicious vegetarian option.

I love, love, love this dressing. It tastes like a French or Catalina dressing, but the garlic gives it an extra zing on the tongue. I could easily use this as my everday salad dressing.

Sweet-Sour Spinach Salad
Serves 6-8

10 oz. fresh spinach
8 oz. sliced water chestnuts, drained and halved
½ c. thinly sliced summer squash
½ c. sliced mushrooms
1/3 c. garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
¼ c. chopped red onion
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

(Mom, I cooked the bacon in the microwave instead of on your stovetop. Merry Christmas.)

2 Tbsp. sugar or sugar substitute, such as Splenda or Equal
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, grated
¼ tsp. salt

1. Combine spinach in a large bowl with water chestnuts, squash, mushrooms, garbanzo beans, and onion.

2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed.

3. Toss salad with dressing. Top with bacon.

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