Dinner @ 226 - So Fun Salad, Deconstructed

I'm going to go ahead and say it. This was an awesome idea. And it was mine, my idea. So, that means I'm awesome...right? Yes, I think it does. It most certainly does. The fact that I lose my car keys on a bi-daily basis shouldn't detract from my awesomeness. Neither should the fact that I liked loved this movies. I'm still awesome. Sort of.

Trudging through the doldrums of winter by braising and stewing can only keep a cook satisfied for so long. It was the middle of last week when I was craving something raw, something fresh and crispy. We almost always accompany our meals with a green salad but in the dead of Ohio winter, salads for dinner are a hard sell to even the most health conscious (ahem). But I couldn't take another simmered sauce or broiled lasagna. No matter how tasty, I knew we couldn't eat soup all winter long.

Inspiration came from Trader Joe's. They sell a prepackaged spinach salad with all these crave-able toppings. The dressing leaves a little to be desired but I could improve upon that, right? And improve I did.

Beckett found a baby spinach leaf. He couldn't bring himself to eat it.

Making it fun for the two babes short adults, I arranged all the toppings in the middle of the table with spoons and forks for digging in. I cut them loose to design their own salad and with everything on the table being somewhat healthy, they had total creative license to compose the salad of their dreams. It was a refreshing and delightful dinner time.

Beckett went heavy on the raw broccoli and bell peppers. Reed heaped up the tomatoes and chickpeas. They both made a serious dent in the blue cheese. I took a scoop of everything that was an option. And Jason's was gone before I could survey.

So Fun Spinach Salad, Deconstructed

You'll Need:

A big bowl of spinach leaves, washed and dried

You'll Want Some or All of the Following:

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
raw broccoli florets
cooked quinoa (I usually have this in the fridge)
blue cheese, crumbled (goat cheese, Parm-Reg, or Manchego would also work)
hard boiled eggs, chopped
dried fruit of your choice (we used cranberries and cherries)
bell pepper, chopped
green onion, chopped
avocado, chopped
cooked & shelled edamame
olives of any kind
cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved if you have the time
your favorite nuts, toasted (we used pepitas)

Now make a basic vinaigrette. I've been making our favorite vinaigrette for 3 or 4 years, so I don't measure. But, if you follow these proportions (1:3, vinegar:oil), you'll end up with something fairly divine. I use an old salsa jar to shake ours up. That way I'm not bothering with a dirty whisk. Herbs and shallots are optional in the dressing. If you have them, use them.

1/4 cup vinegar (red or white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, white or regular balsamic vinegar all work)
1 T Dijon Mustard (we like it tangy, reduce amount if you don't)
1 t honey
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Safflower or Grapeseed Oils also work)
1/4 t salt
pinch black pepper

Shake dressing with lid tightly sealed. I let the kids do this part. You'll have more than you need but the dressing stores in the fridge for 2 weeks.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Leave a comment if you come up with any additional toppings.


  1. That looks amazing. I wish my kids would eat salad. You have a couple of superstars on your hands. Nice job!

  2. Great idea Whitney! I'm gonna try this because Parker loves him some salad!