As the days get warmer, I find myself looking for interesting salads that are filling enough to make a satisfying vegan dinner – so I don’t have to turn on the oven or slave over the cooktop! Since spinach is a great source of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as one of the best vegetable sources of iron, I pair spinach with citrus fruits, which increases iron absorption. This colorful salad is quick and easy to prepare, and will give you more fruits and veggies in one meal than most Americans eat in a week!
Fennel is a favorite vegetable of mine, and is just as appealing raw as it is cooked. I enjoy the pop of color that red onion brings, but like to mellow it in cold water while I’m preparing the other ingredients. This little trick will eliminate the sharp bite, and will make the red onion mellow and sweet.
Instead of peeling the grapefruit, orange, and mandarin, I suggest cutting off the top and bottom of each fruit, and then using a sharp serrated knife to cut away the peel, including the bitter white pith. Once your citrus fruit is peeled, then carefully slice along each membrane in order to cut the segments. I usually do this over a bowl so that I don’t waste any of the delicious juice.
Avocados were in short supply earlier this year, but I’ve been finding lovely organic avocados in the past month, so the supply chain issues must have eased.
The simple vinaigrette flavored with citrus olive oil, lemon, lime, white wine vinegar, mustard, and agave syrup takes about three minutes to prepare and will enhance the flavors of the other salad ingredients. Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet while you’re prepping the other ingredients, and your colorful and filling salad for a healthy vegan dinner will be on the table in under 30 minutes!
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 navel orange, peeled with a serrated knife and segmented
- 1 pink grapefruit, peeled with a serrated knife and segmented
- 1 sumo mandarin or clementine, peeled with a serrated knife and segmented
- 1 fennel bulb, bottom removed, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 Persian cucumber, peeled, quartered, and sliced (or use a Kirby cucumber that has also been seeded)
- 1 organic avocado, peeled, pit removed, and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup citrus olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ½ lemon, zested and juiced
- ½ lime, zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Organic baby spinach, stems removed, thoroughly washed and spun dry
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- ¼ cup shelled pistachios (optional
- Put the thinly sliced red onion in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the other ingredients. This will mellow the “bite” of the red onion.
- Combine the orange, grapefruit, and mandarin segments in a large bowl, along with the fennel, cucumber, and avocado. Toss gently.
- Whisk together the citrus olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon and lime zest and juice, agave syrup, and Dijon mustard, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Plate the salad over a bed of baby spinach and top with the toasted pine nuts (and the optional pistachios if you have them on hand).
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