Classic Vinaigrette & Strawberry-Spinach-Feta Salad (& videos!)

Strawberry-Spinach-Feta Salad with Classic Vinaigrette Low-FODMAP

I'm a big fan of "go-to" recipes. If you've been part of the email crew for a while, you might remember me talking about this in a past newsletter.

To sum it up, you've got to have easy, no-brainer recipes you can make even if you're totally exhausted and didn't do any planning beforehand.

Quick side note! There's a video in this post showing exactly how I make my classic vinaigrette. Well, if you're in the email crew (or if you join before Friday morning), you'll get a BONUS VIDEO that I made just for you. So if you like the videos, look out for my Friday email. And if you haven't joined, just click here!

For a lot of women I talk to, starting the low-FODMAP diet (or ANY specialized healthy eating plan) means you're suddenly cooking every bite of food that goes in your mouth. So not only do you have the challenge of a restrictive diet, but you have to learn a whole new skill set to go along with it. And watching a few episodes of Giada (or Guy Fieri, if that's your jam), isn't going to cut it.

Here's my advice: Don't start bookmarking complicated recipes online and trying to make a new and exciting dish every night of the week. Instead, start with the basics. 

ENTER, CLASSIC VINAIGRETTE...

Everyone needs a simple salad dressing they can make in 2 seconds (fine, it really takes 2 minutes). Because, and here's where the magic happens, it's not just for salad. Here's what you can do with my classic vinaigrette recipe:

  • Use as a marinade for chicken, beef or pork.
  • Use as a sauce for any kind of seafood (shrimp, salmon, scallops, white fish).
  • Toss with cold leftover quinoa, sorghum or gluten free pasta.
  • Drizzle over grilled, steamed or roasted vegetables (eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, green beans, broccoli).
  • Use it on a salad, but get creative with your greens. Try arugula, butter lettuce, baby kale, radicchio, endive or frisée.

To make a really tasty (and super versatile!) dressing you only need 4 ingredients. Plus salt. But here's the real kicker: The measurements don't need to be exact. Once you do this a few times, you don't need to bother with measuring spoons unless you want to.

Strawberry-Spinach-Feta Salad with Classic Vinaigrette Low-FODMAP

The measurements I'm giving you are great place to start.

Can you make substitutions (lemon juice instead of vinegar, for example)? Can you add stuff (herbs, spices)? Yes and yes. You cannot mess this up. If you don't think your creation tastes quite right, tweak away until it does. I personally like a higher proportion of acidic ingredients than most traditional vinaigrettes contain, so that's how I make it!

Classic Vinaigrette with Strawberry, Spinach & Feta Salad

This recipe makes 2 good-sized entrée salads. You can make half the recipe for a single meal, but why not make the whole thing and save half for lunch the following day? Put a serving of vinaigrette in a little jar so you can take it with you on the go and dress your salad when you're ready to eat--no soggy greens! I like adding chicken to this salad (I broil a big batch of chicken breasts every few days and use them for everything), but any protein works here. A great meatless option would be quinoa or sorghum. Note that the vinaigrette recipe makes enough for 4 servings. It keeps in the refrigerator for several days.
 

Author: Julie~Calm Belly Kitchen             Recipe type: Entrée
Prep time:  15 mins        Cook time:  0 mins        Total time:  15 mins
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

For Classic Vinaigrette:
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar or maple syrup
Pinch sea salt

For Salad:
5 oz spinach leaves (about 5 packed cups)
12 medium strawberries
12 to 16 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
4 tsp sunflower seeds
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 recipe (approximately) Classic Vinaigrette
6 to 8 oz broiled, roasted or grilled chicken breasts, sliced
2 oz feta, crumbled (about 1/2 packed cup)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add all the vinaigrette ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake it up until combined (or emulsified if we're fancy). Taste and adjust as you like.

2. Add spinach, strawberries, olives, sunflower seeds and black pepper to a large bowl. Add 4 to 5 tbsp of the vinaigrette (a little less than half of the recipe). Toss well and add more vinaigrette if needed. Remaining vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

3. Divide salad between two bowls and top with sliced chicken. Sprinkle with feta and enjoy.

Nutrition Information (with 12 olives and 6 oz chicken)
Serving size: 1/2 of recipe  Calories: 484 Fat: 35g Saturated fat: 8g Carbohydrates: 13g Sugar: 6g Sodium: 848mg Fiber: 4g Protein: 35g

NOTES

-I use Dijon mustard in my vinaigrette not just for flavor, but because it's an emulsifier. Which means, it keeps the oil and vinegar from separating for longer, even after you've put it your salad. (Here's more info for the food science nerds. Of which I am one.)

-I also use a little somethin' sweet in my vinaigrette. Sugar (I usually just use the plain old white stuff) creates a more complex, balanced flavor. You can use any type of sweet stuff you like. Maple syrup is great, and it's an emulsifier too!