This is a salad of superheros, filled with all kinds of healthy proteins, leafy greens and sweet, fresh citrus. After indulging over the Christmas holidays, and again during a winter getaway to the sunny shores of St. Martin, this kind of healthy eating is exactly what I was craving. I'm the kind of person who needs carbs at every meal, so I tried a trick I picked up in a men's magazine and added some quinoa. I loved the pearly crunch it lent to the dish. This recipe is my own and serves 4-6.
To make salad:
Wash and dry one bag of baby spinach.
Peel and section 6-8 mandarins.
Finely slice 1/3 red onion.
Dry saute 1 cup whole almonds in a frying pan over medium-low heat until fragrant and starting to brown.
Cook 3/4 cup quinoa with a mixture of 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup pineapple juice. I let it cook a tad longer than the instructions called for to get the bottom a bit crispy.
Shred 1-1/2 to 2 cups of roasted or rotisserie chicken.
Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl.
To make citrus vinaigrette:
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, 1/4 cup of pineapple juice, the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, 2T lavender honey (can substitute regular honey), 1 tsp minced garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. You can adjust the amounts depending how tart you like your vinaigrette.
The vinaigrette has a tendency to separate, so pour it into a small Mason jar and shake vigorously before using. Allow salad to absorb vinaigrette for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Any leftover vinaigrette can be refrigerated for future use.