I admit I am not a fan of salads. Pasta salads, yes. Potato salad, of course! But the fresh leaves stuff…not quite. However, the following dish is probably the only salad that I would willingly choose to eat over a sandwich, soup, or meat filled entrée. I just love it. It is filling, simple yet full of flavor, light and most importantly, healthy.
One day I was challenged with making a dish for a potluck that would please a very health conscious group. I had to figure out what to make that both vegetarians (the majority) and non-vegetarians (like me) would like; something that could easily serve a small group and be simple to make. For some reason the Balsamic vinegar kept getting my attention as my eyes roamed over the ingredients in my cabinets. I decided to make something with the special vinegar and my thoughts led towards making a spin on a classic Italian favorite.
I love caprese salad, however I decided to take the components and reinvent it my way. (If you’re Italian, I know you might consider this sacrilegious but I did say it was an INSPIRED salad). Always keeping in mind the character of each individual ingredient, I decided to use spinach as a healthier alternative to iceberg lettuce and add a layer of flavor with spicy arugula. I added the fresh basil (Genovese, NOT Thai) to the rest of the greens. This way the aroma of basil permeated throughout the leaves and each bite would give a surprise burst of flavor (especially since it was hard to distinguish the basil pieces in the midst of all the spinach of arugula). The bite sized pieces of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes allowed you to get the whole caprese experience in every forkful. Finally, I used the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil that’s traditionally drizzled over the caprese salad to make a vinaigrette instead.
I presented my newly created dish to the potluck and it was one of the first dishes to be completely decimated. Want to try it out? Let’s get started.
- Here’s what you need:
- 2 cups Spinach
- 1 cup Arugula
- 1/4 cup Fresh Genovese basil
- 4 oz Fresh mozzarella
- 1 cup Tomatoes
- 2 T Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T Balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 t Salt
Step 1: Prepare the spinach and arugula by giving them a good wash and dry. (Tip: if you got your greens in sealed bags, washing usually isn’t necessary but double check the labeling on the package for confirmation).
Step 2: Fresh mozzarella comes in packages containing water. Remove the mozzarella from the package and discard the liquid. Cut the mozzarella into 0.5 in cube pieces.
Step 3: Prepare the tomatoes by giving them a good wash and dry. Dice the tomatoes into 0.5 in pieces. Place the tomatoes into a strainer and lightly rinse with water. Let the water drain. (Tip: if you bought cherry tomatoes, just wash and cut in half).
Step 4: Gather your fresh basil and stack into a pile. Using your sharpest knife, cut the basil into strips. Try to get pieces at least 1.0 in long.
Step 5: Add the spinach, arugula, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil into a bowl. Set aside for now.
Step 6: For the vinaigrette -- In a separate small bowl, add the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with a fork or small whisk.
Step 7: Add your vinaigrette to your salad and toss. The salad should not be drenched, but lightly coated.
Step 8: Serve as a main or side dish. Enjoy!!!!
-- Dr. G
Have you tried out this recipe? Let me know how you like this dish or if you made any alterations yourself.