Simple & Healthy Spinach Citrus Salad

Patti Cook, BA, MS, Ed.D., Culinary Grad and B & P Student (Photo Credit)

Friends and family often come to my house for dinner. One friend has been known to walk in the door and declare that this is his favorite restaurant. I love the compliment. What matters the most to me is that I fill the people I love with healthy, nutritious food and that they adore every bite. And, almost always, I include a salad. I come from a long line of salad makers; my grandmother was famous for her cucumber dill salad and my mom makes a mean iceberg salad with blue cheese dressing.

The salad course was one of my favorite units in the online culinary program because it provided the building blocks and knowledge to create delicious combinations that I hadn’t thought of before. Based on one of my assignments, I developed a spinach citrus salad that is both over-the-top delicious and super-good for your body and your taste buds. It’s winning rave reviews from my dinner companions.

The combination of spinach, citrus, fresh herbs and pecans is a winner. Spinach has a long history of being viewed as a nutritious food with medicinal qualities. It’s increased in popularity over the last decade. In particular, the availability of baby spinach (a lot less bitter and less sandy than regular) makes it quicker and easier to use. Citrus and herbs bring big, fresh flavors along with lots of nutritional value and minimal calories. Nuts bring their satisfying crunch, good fat and some protein.

From my kitchen seat, feeding people you love food that makes them want to lick their plates is great. Feeding them healthy foods that nurture their bodies and please their taste buds is the best.

Simple & Healthy Spinach Citrus Salad


½ cup pecans (or other nuts)
1 pink grapefruit
1 orange
1 lime or lemon
1 mint sprig
1 basil sprig
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons citrus juice, such as lemon, lime or orange
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
5 ounces baby spinach (see Tip)


1. Toast the nuts in a pan over medium-high heat until fragrant and just starting to turn golden brown. Let cool.

2. Peel and segment the grapefruit, orange and lime (or lemon) over a bowl.

3. Pick leaves from the herb sprigs (you should have about 10), layer on top of each other, roll up into a cigar shape and thinly slice into chiffonade.

4. Whisk oil, citrus juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

5. Mix spinach, citrus segments, half the nuts and half of the herbs in a salad bowl. Add the dressing and gently toss. Garnish with the remaining herbs and nuts.

A tip for success is to make sure when you are using raw spinach in a salad that the leaves are very dry so the dressing will coat the spinach.

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