Gourmet lunch in a hurry? Spinach salad fills the bill


Entertaining: Make and take a light meal with crispy ginger chips.

September 16, 2001|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

For a light lunch that can be made ahead and transported, try a salad of tender baby spinach leaves, carrot ribbons and sliced green onions tossed in a light sesame and wine vinegar dressing. Pick up a roasted chicken and slice its breast meat to add to the salad. Sprinkle the salad with crispy fried ginger chips.

To serve with it, a crusty baguette is perfect, and for dessert, pick up a pint of grapefruit sorbet and a basket of fresh blueberries.

The delectable ginger chips are what make this salad distinctive. I first tasted fried ginger slices this past summer at a small Parisian restaurant called L'Avant Gout. There the talented chef used them as a garnish for a rustic pork and fennel stew. Our waiter explained that thin, peeled ginger slices were blanched quickly, then fried until crisp.

Betty Rosbottom writes for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

Salad of Baby Spinach and Carrots with Fried Ginger Chips

Makes 4 servings

1 (4-ounce) piece of ginger root, about 4 1/2 inches long (see Note)

Canola oil

2 medium carrots

3 medium green onions

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 / 4 cup roasted sesame oil

one 9-ounce package cleaned baby spinach


1 whole cooked chicken breast (from 2 1/2 to 3 pound chicken), skin removed and chicken sliced, optional

With vegetable peeler, remove skin from ginger. Using sharp knife, slice ginger into paper-thin rounds about the size of a nickel. Fill medium skillet with 1 inch or more of water and place over high heat. When water starts to simmer, add ginger slices and simmer until tender when pierced with a knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pat ginger slices dry with more paper towels.

Place enough oil in heavy, medium skillet to come 1 / 4 inch up sides of pan. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. (There should be enough oil in pan for ginger to cook quickly. Ginger will not absorb much of the oil so there will be a lot left over.) Add ginger slices and saute, stirring, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes or longer. Remove ginger from skillet with slotted spoon to drain on plate lined with paper towels. (Ginger can be sauteed 2 hours ahead. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.)

Peel carrots. Using vegetable peeler, shave thin, ribbon-like strips from each carrot. Peel as many strips as you can from each carrot and discard stumps. Trim and discard roots and all but two inches of green stems from green onions, then slice on the diagonal into 1/2 -inch-wide pieces. (Carrots and onions can be prepared 1 hour ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.)

When ready to assemble salad, whisk together vinegar and sesame oil in large bowl. Remove 1 tablespoon dressing to small bowl and set aside.

Toss spinach, carrots and green onions in large bowl to coat lightly with dressing. Season with salt to taste. Divide salad evenly among 4 salad plates. If using chicken breast, garnish each serving with several slices. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon dressing and sprinkle with fried ginger chips.

Note: When buying ginger, choose one that has smooth skin and is heavy. Older ginger is often wrinkled and lighter in weight.

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