Guest Post: The Smart Kitchen Crunchy Spinach Salad with Salty Sweet Tahini Vinaigrette

I’ve recently found a new favorite blogger and I knew when I was looking for guest bloggers that she was one I had to share with you! Sarah of The Smart Kitchen is always sharing delicious recipes and fun tidbits of her life. And she’s clearly a nut butter-lover like me.. she even has her own line of nutty butters! [Note to self: buy some soon!]

The recipe that Sarah is sharing with us today sounds so tasty I almost can’t wait to come home to make it! …..almost. 😉


Hi y’all! My name is Sarah, but the ladies of the healthy living blog world--or at least the handful who consistently read my blog–know me as Miss Smart. I blog over at The Smart Kitchen, where I spend an absurd amount of time using my food processor, shopping at every grocery store in town on the hunt for manager’s specials, attempting to figure out four thousand ways to use the same ingredient, eating an excessive amount of nut butter straight from the jar…and, literally, licking my plate in restaurants. [No. Seriously.]

I was thrilled to have Brittany ask me to submit a guest post as she is honeymooning this month, and while I would rather be honeymooning myself–heck, y’all, I’d settle for a nice boy taking me out to dinner 😉–I am happy to be able to take a little virtual vacation.

I say “submit” instead of “write” a guest post, because what I often like to do when I go ‘a-visiting’ is find and old post or recipe that deserves to see the light of day Google reader again. Today’s recipe and post is a Glee-style mash-up of a nostalgic family favorite, reinvented not once, but twice, both for my blog, and the blog of a local magazine I was writing for last spring.

My aunt Elizabeth is a master hostess. She is the kind of woman who can decide one afternoon to throw a cocktail party for 50, and by 6 o’clock, have drinks at the ready, appetizers laid out, and be dressed and ready to greet her guests with such nonchalance you’d think she’d been preparing for four weeks, instead of four hours.

So when it comes to recipes for entertaining, I always turn to her tried and true formulas--stored (not very safely) in my binder of family recipes-of ease, taste, versatility and appeal.

And there right on top, in the section labeled “salads,” is the unnamed, known only as “that salad Aunt Elizabeth makes,” deliciousness that once, at a potluck where I served it, inspired a guest to proclaim, “I don’t even like salad, and I’m going back for seconds!”The original recipe calls for a base of spinach and shredded cabbage.As all great hostesses know, what shortcuts you take are between you and the four walls of your kitchen, so you can buy bags of baby spinach AND bags of shredded cabbage and save yourself time. [The original recipe, in fact, calls for that.] Since cabbage happened to be on sale, and lasts for years in the fridge,* I went ahead and shredded half of a head in my food processor.

*I am not a certified doctor. Do not trust me on this.All that’s left to do now is chop up somegreen onions…. …and sprinkle on some sliced or slivered almonds, sesame seeds, and the dry ramen noodles (sans seasoning packet) stereotypically favored by starving artists, twenty-something bachelors, and Brother Smart when he was 15 years old.

Except I forgot the ramen.

I did, however, have a number of green apples that had accumulated in my lunch bag throughout the week as, whenever I walked through the teacher’s lounge it seemed appropriate to take another one. [They were free. They were there. I obviously subconsciously knew I would need them later.] Since I was already changing things up from the original, I decided I might as well just keep on Smart Kitchen-izing the traditional. Once I had photographed the standard salad and dressing, I added the aforementioned apples, and got to work on a NEW dressing.Instead of adding canola oil to the combination of vinegar, pepper, sugar, and seasoned salt…

Aunt Elizabeth would use Lawry’s. Penzey’s was found in my moving boxes first.

…I took a hint from the sesame seeds in the salad and added tahini (and tahini oil) instead!Now the salad was good before. But this Salty Sweet Tahini Vinaigrette concoction? Well that is the stuff of tastebud tantalizing dreams, I tell you!Before serving—and Aunt Elizabeth says to always serve a salad dressed*–whisk it up quite a bit to make sure the tahini has inflitrated the vinegar.

*Makes sense, really. You wouldn’t show up to the party naked, would you?But since this whole ‘whisking’ of dressing in a bowl concept doesn’t really do it for me, I filled up a jar and shook it out instead.

And yes, I did go back for seconds.*

*And pack thirds for lunch!

Crunchy Spinach Salad w. Salty Sweet Tahini Vinaigrette*

*Note: I’ve cut the recipe down here for a 2-4 serving size.

For the salad:

  • One half 10.oz-package baby spinach (or regular spinach, loosely chopped)
  • 2-3 cups shredded cabbage (or 1/2 package angel hair cole slaw cabbage)
  • 3 green onions, sliced (whites and light greens)
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds
  • 1 small green apples, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
    Ramen noodles, dry, crumbled (optional)

For the tahini vinaigrette:

  • 4 Tbsp. tahini
  • 1 1/3 cup cider or rice vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Layer salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl (or jar), whisk (or shake) together dressing ingredients. Just before serving, whisk (or shake) dressing again and pour over salad!


Like I said, I almost can’t wait to come home to try this salad. I have a feeling it’ll be a new go-to. Thanks again, Sarah!

Food for Thought

What is your favorite salad combination?

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