Monday, December 9, 2013

Spinach Mandarin Pasta Salad with 5-spice Honey Dressing, a Recovery Pasta Salad

After an unexpected bout of food poisoning (I suppose there isn't an expected one.  If so, perhaps one should reconsider his or her life choices), I could feel the utter depletion of vitamins and nutrients in my body. Everything in my being - from my eyeballs to my skin to hair, felt washed out, gray, the complete opposite of vibrancy and vigor.

The soft, muffled cries for help from my bloodstream became hard to ignore.  As energy was still a bit lagging, a salad, with its inherent brightness and variety as well as its ease of preparation, seemed the best way to go about addressing the lack of vital nutrients. Here is a pasta salad with spinach, mandarin, some absolutely stunning Romanesco cauliflower, and some other goodies, topped with a gingery 5-spice honey dressing.

Though the offending food also contained pasta (pasta primavera actually, ala Seinfeld), that apparently did not deter me from using it in my salad.  Sometimes the very thing that leads to our downfall can be the same thing that leads to recovery.

For more great pasta salad ideas, click here.  Cooking Light has put together a slideshow of 25 pasta salad recipes - how can one not love the infinite possibilities that this dish has to offer?

For the salad:
1/2 of a large red onion, thinly sliced
lemon wedge
drizzle of olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chopped spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups mandarin orange segments
5 cups cooked pasta (I used shells, but use whatever floats your boat)
1 cup chopped Romanesco cauliflower (feel free to substitute regular cauliflower, the Romanesco is just so beautiful!)
2 scallions, chopped
3 small carrots, chopped
1/4 cup chopped jicama
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

For the dressing:
1/3 cup canola
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons honey
lots of black pepper
pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon 5-spice powder

For the dressing: Whisk all the ingredients together.

For the pasta salad: In a small bowl, drizzle the onion slices with a bit of lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Mix the red onion with the spinach, mandarin orange, pasta, cauliflower, scallions, carrots, jicama, and sunflower seeds.  Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle dressing over the salad, and use tongs to toss together.


  1. Ooh, so sorry you were struck down with food poisoning that is the worst! However, this salad looks like just the thing to ease your stomach back to normalcy again.

  2. Your comment about food poisoning had me laughing, Jenn. Great writing, and a great-looking salad! Hope you're feeling 100% again.

  3. I love how much flavor and nutrition is packed into this salad!! And boo to food poisoning. The worst.

  4. look great.thanks for share. I really excited to read this blog. I am also from chef background and love to enjoy reading and learning new things.
    Chef For Hire

  5. This looks so incredibly tasty! I cannot wait to try this recipe out, thanks for the share.

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