Apricot Spinach Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Avocado Basil Dressing – Fresh Vegan Summer Salad Recipe by Tori Avey
It’s salad weather, and my go-to green is spinach. As a flexitarian (somebody who doesn’t eat meat all that often), I’ve always appreciated that spinach is a nutritional powerhouse and a rich vegetarian source of iron. After all, Popeye ate it, and check out the biceps on that guy!! In the 1930s, the Popeye cartoon was responsible for increasing spinach consumption in the U.S. by over 30%. He was quite a culinary influencer! Imagine my surprise when I came across the Spinach Popeye Iron Decimal Story, also known as SPIDES. A popular story arose during the 1930s, describing how a German chemist misplaced a decimal point when reporting the amount of iron found in spinach. This “theory” on the incorrectly calculated nutritional impact of spinach spread quickly. While many Americans had been increasing their spinach intake, they were now questioning whether it was as rich in iron as they previously thought.
What is interesting about this theory is that the source of SPIDES has never been provided (as far as we know), despite it being published repeatedly. An interesting and humorous article by Dr. Mike Sutton discusses this oft-repeated spinach story, pointing it out as an example of what my friend Gil Marks refers to as a “bubbe-meise” (Yiddish – grandmother’s tale, meaning wives’ tale). In our modern internet culture, we often take what we read as fact and rarely seek out the original source of the information. All too often, the articles we assume to be true are simply regurgitating from another ill-informed source. This is one of the reasons I try my best to site my research sources on this site; I encourage readers to dig deeper, learn more and report back their findings. It’s a collaborative effort here, folks! Even now the SPIDES story is regularly retold as fact, when the truth is nobody seems to have access to the original source. Food for thought!
So, what’s the skinny on spinach? It is true that this leafy green contains more iron than red meat, but the levels that can be absorbed by the human body are much smaller. However, that doesn’t mean we should shrug off spinach. It’s a very healthy green, and I try to work it into my diet regularly. In addition to its iron benefits, spinach is also high in vitamins K and A. This salad is a delicious way to prepare it. Our market shelves are crowded with ripe, succulent stone fruit at the moment. Inspired by a batch of perfectly sweet apricots, I created this Apricot Spinach Salad with a creamy, lemony avocado basil dressing. The flavor is fresh, layered, and unique. The creamy vegan basil dressing is a perfect compliment to the sweet apricot slices, and avocado provides a dose of healthy fat. Toasty walnuts give it another dimension. It’s a new, summery twist on spinach salad. Popeye would most certainly approve!
Other Spinach Recipe Ideas
Beard and Bonnet: White Bean, Spinach and Couscous Bake
Tasty Yummies: Wild Rice and Spinach Patties
¡Hola! Jalapeño: Spinach Salad with Meyer Lemon
- 12 oz. baby spinach, cleaned and sorted
- 3/4 cup unsalted raw walnuts or walnut pieces (no shell)
- 5 ripe apricots, sliced into 6-8 pieces each
Avocado Basil Dressing Ingredients
- 1 cup ripe avocado, diced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 1/2 heaping tsp salt
- Toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat until they begin to brown and smell toasty. Remove from heat.
- Combine spinach, walnuts, and apricot slices in a large salad bowl and toss gently to combine.
- Combine dressing ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Do not over-process in order to preserve the color. If the mixture is too thick and not smooth enough to easily pour, stir in water a tablespoon at a time until a dressing consistency is reached.
- Serve salad portions drizzled with dressing. The dressing may be made a few hours ahead; store it in the refrigerator with plastic wrap touching the surface of the dressing to prevent browning. Best made the day of serving to preserve color and freshness of flavor.
Sutton, Mike, Dr. “SPINACH, IRON and POPEYE: Ironic Lessons from Biochemistry and History on the Importance of Healthy Eating, Healthy Scepticism and Adequate Citation.” Internet Journal of Criminology (2010): 1-34. 2010. Web. 6 Aug. 2014.
Wright, Clifford A. (2001) Mediterranean Vegetables: A Cook’s ABC of Vegetables and Their Preparation in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa with More than 200 Authentic Recipes for the Home Cook. Harvard Common, Boston, MA.