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Spinach and Clementine Salad

February 15, 2010

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So far, February has been a little hectic. I’ve been traveling a lot for work (who knew being a librarian would involve so many hotel rooms?), and luckily I’ve been able to combine that work travel with visits to friends and family. I got to spend a week in the Bay Area, and even got to go to Santa Cruz for a quick day trip, a place which still has the ability to make me blissfully happy, even though they are doing massive construction on my old dorm. Oh nostalgia, you are a powerful beast.

Of course, all this traveling has involved a lot of restaurant meals, and I don’t complain about that. But I do miss my kitchen when I’m away, and frankly, when I return I’m not usually in the mood to be wildly experimental with my food. No, I’m a homebody at heart, and being away makes me long for familiar dinners, like my very favorite chicken enchiladas. But the days of heavy restaurant food also make me crave light, fresh salads, and this winter-friendly spinach and citrus salad absolutely does not disappoint.

I’m not usually much of a fruit person, but in my eternal quest to eat a balanced diet, I decided to jump onto the winter citrus bandwagon this year. And I’m kicking myself for having stayed away for so long. Clementines are spectacular! (Not to mention my new found love for pears.)

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On one of my recent trips to Portland, I picked up Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar and discovered that it makes a great vinaigrette: bright and light, and perfectly balanced with just a bit of Dijon mustard and good olive oil. Paired with fresh baby spinach, clementines, Kalamata olives, and pecans, well. Let’s just say I ate this salad three nights in a row. It’s an excellent complement to fish or a baked sweet potato, and goes pretty nicely with a little slice of brioche as well (hint, hint: Come back soon for my brioche recipe).

It always feels a little silly putting up a recipe for a salad, which is evident in the dearth of them on this site. I mean, salads are pretty simple, really. But this combination is so exactly perfect, I would have felt wrong not sharing it with all of you. And in winter, salads feel so few and far between, this makes an excellent February break from turnips and kale and carrots.

Spinach and Clementine Salad

Spinach and Clementine Salad

For the vinaigrette – this makes a small amount; enough for about 2 or 3 salads

  • 2 tablespoons of orange champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of olive oil

For the salad, per serving

  • 1 or 2 big handfuls of clean baby spinach
  • 1 clementine, peeled into sections
  • 4 or 5 Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • a handful of chopped pecans (you can toast them if you like

Stir together the vinegar and mustard, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Mix together salad ingredients, toss with vinaigrette, and eat! (See, it feels silly to write a recipe for a salad.)

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The winter here in Walla Walla already feels like it’s on its way out: The sun is setting at 5:30, and it hasn’t been below 35 degrees, at least when I’ve been here. I’m already dreaming of my CSA, and the seeds I’ve ordered for my first attempt at gardening. I’m a little nervous that all this springtime dreaming means we’re going to get walloped by one last snow storm, but so far, I have to say winter in Walla Walla is about 2,000 times better than winter in Boston. Which means I might only have a few more weeks for casseroles and mashed potatoes and other wintertime staples. I just hope I get to spend the rest of the winter in my kitchen.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010 10:36 am

    Looks like a perfect break from heavy winter food!

  2. Caitlin permalink
    March 3, 2010 7:27 am

    This was so great! My mom is on a VERY strict diet to help her battle her cancer and this is the best dish she’s eaten in weeks! It completely made her day!
    Thanks so much!

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