Whenever I hear someone say ‘salads are so boring’ I’m always confused by this. I mean obviously they’re quite a bit different then let’s say… my One Pot Gluten Free Mac and Cheese. But they’re by no means boring – not even in the least!
Maybe it’s because we make our salads so loaded with toppings, they don’t have a chance of being boring. When you combine that with a flavorful homemade dressing, you’ve got our favorite way to eat tons of veggies.
The inspiration for this salad comes from the memory of a pasta salad my mom used to make often. It had mandarin orange segments and chicken along with a faintly Asian style dressing. And while I suppose this recipe could be easily turned into a pasta salad, I actually prefer this giant spinach salad version instead.
You can also make a meal prep version of this salad for lunches by packing the ingredients into a mason jar. I have a whole post with tips for salad jars in my Mason Salad Jars 101 post if you want more instruction to turn your favorite salads into lunch to go.
For the red onions, you want them to be thinly sliced so they’re not too powerful. You can also finely dice them for less onion in each bite, or you can use green onions if red onion isn’t your thing.
I like to use fresh mandarin oranges rather than canned because they pack so much flavor into every bite. I peel mine, then cut them into rounds, but you can also cut them into bite sized pieces.
The dressing for this salad is a slight variation on my Creamy Ginger Dressing from years past. But I changed up a few things to suit this recipe better, including a little fresh mandarin juice to play off the mandarins in the salad.
The final thing I like to change up sometimes is subbing in lightly toasted walnuts for the slivered almonds, or even sesame seeds to keep this completely nut free. Any way you go, there’s so much going on here in this salad bowl, I promise you won’t find salad boring anymore!
- 8 cups washed baby spinach, 8-10 ounces
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 4, grilled
- 10 small mandarin oranges, peeled, 1½ pounds
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, and thinly sliced
- 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
- ½ cup avocado oil, or neutral tasting oil of your choice
- 3 Tablespoons minced ginger
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed mandarin juice, from 1-2
- 2 Tablespoons tahini
- ½ cup chopped celery, 2.5 ounces
- ¼ cup gluten free soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- Place the baby spinach in a large serving bowl.
- Chop into bite sized pieces or thinly slice both the grilled chicken and mandarin oranges.
- Arrange them over the baby spinach along with the sliced red onion, bell pepper, and sprinkle the almonds and chopped cilantro over the top.
- For the dressing, place all the ingredients into a high powered blender. Secure the lid, and blend starting on low and working up to medium high speed. Blend until the dressing is completely smooth and creamy.
- Serve the salad with the dressing on the side.
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