This spinach salad has been life changing for at least one woman. It’s SO simple, baby spinach, boiled eggs, tomatoes. But a couple special touches push it over the edge from simple to phenomenal!
Do you see those tiny reddish orange dots on the salad? That’s one of my favorite secret weapons in the kitchen. It’s called Alaea Sea Salt and is a Hawaiian sea salt that gets its coloring for the red clay dirt that is all over quite a bit of the islands. I use it in everything from making kalua pig to crispy kale chips, but one of my favorite ways to use alaea salt is sprinkling it on salads.
Alaea Sea Salt is a traditional Hawaiian table salt that’s been used for years to season and preserve. A natural mineral called “Alae” (volcanic baked red clay) is added to enrich the salt with iron oxide. The clay imparts a subtle flavor that I find mellower and more earthy than regular sea salt. I love using it in salads because not only does it add an earthy saltiness to the flavor of the salad, but it gives it a delightfully crunchy texture as well.
The first class of the Autumn series of the Healthy Cooking on a Tight Budget Program was called “Lettuce Free Salads” and the last salad we made was this simple spinach salad. All the class participants (20 women and 4 men) were excited about the new ingredients they learned about through out the class, including fennel and purslane. But the Alaea salt definitely got the biggest reaction.
One woman came up to me after tasting it and was literally jumping up and down! “My momma has been trying to get me to eat spinach since I was born, but you’re the first person to get me to like it!!! I’m gonna go home and make this for my family, they gonna fall outta their chairs!” Her enthusiasm was contagious and soon we were all grinning at her new found love of spinach.
A couple tips on possible adaptations of the salad. You could soft boil the eggs, but I usually hard boil them. Feel free to check out my tutorial on how to boil eggs. You can also add chopped chives or green onions to the salad as in the photos. I like to do that when I have some in my windowsill garden, but it’s still amazing without them. For the vinaigrette dressing below, you can really give your tastebuds a punch of happy if you use a flavored olive oil. I had some rosemary garlic oil left over from making white bean salad for the Latino Health Fair. The depth it added to the bright vinaigrette was like a small breeze on an autumn day, barely discernible but more than welcome.
This spinach tomato salad recipe is perfect for a lunch or light dinner. It also makes a great side salad for a simple steak. Oh and, if you’re wondering about the gorgeous green drink in the top photo, it’s my now famous lavender lemonade!
Tomato and Spinach Salad RecipeServes 2-4
3 cups washed and dried fresh baby spinach
2 small vine tomatoes or 8 cherry tomatoes
3 boiled eggs (cooled and peeled)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½-1 tsp sugar
½ tsp alaea sea salt or other crunchy salt
Tear spinach into bite sized pieces and arrange on two dinner plates as a main dish or four salad plates as a side. Cut tomatoes and eggs into wedges and arrange on top of spinach.
In a bowl or jar, whisk together vinegar, oil, and sugar. Drizzle dressing over salads and sprinkle each with a little alaea salt.
Approximate cost/serving: Baby spinach is very cheap at local farms or Sam’s Club. Eggs are super affordable too! Total cost came out to around $2 for us so that was $1 per serving for a main dish or 50 cents per serving for a side.
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: Although it’s vegetarian, you can make it vegan by substituting some firm tofu for the eggs. Totally gluten free.
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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.