Salmon, Orange, and Spinach Salad

I am typically not a fan of eating a salad as my main entrée.  Quite honestly, I’ve had a lot of bad ones.  It usually plays out something like this:  I somehow manage to subdue my gluttonous urges and opt for a salad over a deliciously large cheeseburger with greasy french fries.   I proudly pat myself on the back for being such a healthy person and shortly thereafter, a sad-looking plate of droopy lettuce, too much dressing, and a cold rubbery meat is placed in front of me.  Frankly this is often times too much to bear as I think  about that juicy cheeseburger and those golden fries that would have totally been worth the extra 6 miles in the gym. 

So it was with great purpose that I set out to use up some leftover salmon by making a dinner salad.  I looked for the freshest spinach in the grocery store, toasted almonds, carefully cut oranges, and even made salad dressing to make sure that my entrée salad was far from disappointing. 

It was worth the effort.  For those who haven’t tried fennel before it has a distinct licorice taste that is unpleasant to some.  However, even if you are licorice averse, it’s worth trying out with oranges.  The flavors of both play together beautifully and it is truly a refreshing combination.  While I poached the salmon that I used in the salad, you could also bake it with equally delicious results.  Just be sure to watch the salmon carefully and be careful not to over cook it.  And finally, and perhaps most importantly, buy the freshest produce you can find.  After all, if you take the healthy high road and make a salad you shouldn’t have to regret not eating the cheeseburger.

Salmon, Orange, and Spinach Salad
Serves 4

4 cooked salmon fillets, torn into bite-size pieces
2 oranges, skin and pith removed (see images) and cut crosswise into thin rounds
1 bulb of fennel, stalks removed and white part very thinly sliced
1 lb fresh spinach, stems trimmed and leaves torn into small pieces if needed
1/4 cup toasted almond pieces
Sherry Vinaigrette, to taste (see recipe which follows)

Place the spinach in a large bowl.  Add some of the dressing, but not all, and toss to coat.  Add more dressing only if needed remembering the important rule that it is easy to add more of an ingredient and not so easy to take something away.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently.  Serve immediately.

Sherry VinaigretteI find that some brands of sherry vinegar are slightly overpowering.  When this occurs I simply replace one tablespoon of sherry vinegar with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar and 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar)
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the sherry vinegar and chopped shallot.  Then, whisking constantly, slowly add the olive oil to the vinegar and shallot mixture until well-mixed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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