Brighten up with a fresh spinach salad

Baby spinach tossed with grated beets, toasted pecans, tangerine, carrots, and couscous combines sweet, crunchy, and juicy into a "sunburst" salad with vibrant colors.

By , The Garden of Eating

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    Grated beets, carrots, tangerines, and crunchy pecans on a bed of baby spinach is a sweet and crunchy break from too many holiday desserts. Add coucous or another grain to make the salad more substantial.
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I made this salad for myself and my hubby for lunch a few days ago. It seemed like a perfect antidote to the dwindling sunlight and colder temps as we enter the final days of the countdown to the heart of darkness (aka the winter equinox). 
 
 I was feeling a little draggy after another night of not enough sleep so I decided to take a short hiatus from my usual lunchtime fare – something bread-based, followed by cookies – in favor of a fresher and lighter meal. 

I love grated beet in salads – it's sweet and juicy and crunchy. And the color is so bright and beautiful, too, especially paired with the orange of the shredded carrot and tangerine slices – hence the "sunburst" name. 

I also love citrus fruit in salad – juicy, tart and sweet. And the toasted nuts are deliciously crunchy and rich. I really like the baby spinach as a base for this salad – very tender and flavorful. Although I admit that I am mostly focused on the flavor, it's an added bonus that all these things really good for you, too. 

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I added some grain to give the salad a bit more substance. I used leftover couscous from a Moroccan themed potluck we hosted recently but you could use farro or quinoa or whatever you have on hand. I probably would have included some goat cheese but didn't have any in the house. Toss in a handful of currants, raisins or dried cherries, splash with a healthy dose of your favorite vinaigrette and you're in business. Eat well and stay well!

Sunburst spinach salad with grated beets, toasted pecans and couscous
Amounts vary based on how much you want to make
 
Baby spinach, washed and dried

Beet, peeled and grated

Carrot, peeled and grated

Pecans or walnuts, toasted

Dried currants, raisins, cherries or cranberries

Tangerine or orange, peeled and sliced

Vinaigrette (I used a simple balsamic one)

Couscous, farro, or quinoa, cooked and cooled

Directions:
 
 Lay down a thick bed of baby spinach, top with couscous or other grain, layer on the grated carrot and beet, and top with the toasted nuts and sliced citrus. Drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette and dig in.

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