It's back to school week for us here in East Tennessee, so I need quick, easy dinners that can keep us full while adjusting back to our new schedule. This Teriyaki Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges is one of my favorites because it can be made ahead of time and left to eat at any point over the next several days.
It is great for lunches, dinners, heck...I think I would even eat it for breakfast!
It also doesn't heat up the kitchen, so it is the perfect recipe to make in the dead of summer.
Speaking of summer, why in the world do my kids have to go back to school this early?! When I was a kid, we never started school until after Labor Day. By then the weather had cooled a little, our backs were brown from all the sunshine, and we were desperate to see all our friends. But nowadays the kids have to go back at the beginning of August! Heck, there's still a month and a half left of summer at that point!
I know it has to do with testing stuff, but we're totally not done with sleeping in, running in the sprinklers, and swimming for hours on end. It's hard for anybody to get excited about school when it's 95 degrees outside!
Anyway, I digress.
The Ingredients for the Spinach Salad
It is nearly impossible to mess up this spinach salad. I don't care if you think you'd be the star of Worst Cooks of America, you can make this dish! In fact, if you brought this to a potluck or dinner party, your friends would think you got cooking lessons!
It is packed full of flavor from the smooth teriyaki dressing, and the oranges, cranberries, and cashews give it a fun and different texture.
Here's what you'll need:
8 ounces of bow tie pasta cooked to package directions
1 bag of baby spinach leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
6-8 ounce can of mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Put all of those ingredients into a bowl and set it aside while you make the teriyaki dressing.
How to Make a Teriyaki Marinade
Now, I call this a teriyaki dressing AND a teriyaki marinade because it is dual purposed. Not only does it provide a smooth but tangy finish for the spinach salad, but I have totally marinaded chicken in it.
Like this picture for instance. I marinaded chicken breasts and thighs in the teriyaki sauce, boiled the pasta for the salad, put the chicken on the grill, assembled the spinach pasta salad, took the chicken off the grill, and BAM!
Dinner is done.
I'm a hero. (Not really, but I'll let my kids think that a little longer.) LOL!
So here are the ingredients you need for the teriyaki dressing:
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce (I use Veri Veri Teriyaki because it is thicker than others)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
Use a whisk to mix everything together and then pour it over the salad. Toss it a few times to make sure all the spinach pasta salad is coated and then you're set to have yourself a bomb-diggity dinner! I'm not sure if that is a real word but I'm going with it.
These are some other salads I am big on this time of year! The first is my Crunchy Thai Salad with Peanut Sauce and the second is my Greek Pasta Salad with Feta Cheese. Both come with unforgettable dressings!
I'm telling you, this pasta salad is amazing! You'll take a bite and be unable to stop! It is perfect for a hot summer day, a potluck, or just a simple side dish. Save this image on Pinterest for later! Enjoy the rest of your summer and Happy Cooking y'all!
Teriyaki Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges
For the Spinach Salad
- 8 oz bow tie noodles cooked to package directions
- 1 10-12 oz bag baby spinach leaves, stems removed
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 1 6-8 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
For the Dressing
- 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce such as Veri Veri Teriyaki
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp white sugar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Make the pasta according to package instructions.
- Put all of the salad ingredients into a large bowl.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the salad.
- Toss the salad with the dressing several times to make sure everything is well coated.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.