Something Different
Week of: Febuary 22, 2010
Download 300 dpi photo
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Citrus Sparks a Spinach Salad

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Much of my cooking focuses on bringing together good taste and healthy eating. This citrus-dressed spinach salad topped with grilled chicken shows how simple this can be.

Chefs cook with a variety of citrus fruits because each has its own flavor nuances. Lemons taste sweeter than limes, for example. And compared to a Valencia, the familiar juice orange, a blood orange has berry notes in its flavor.

Eating different kinds of citrus is also a healthy idea because they vary enough in nutrition to make eating an assortment of limes, lemons, oranges, tangerines and more a smart choice. Oranges, for example, provide some calcium. Tangerines contain high levels of the phytochemical tangeretin and grapefruit are particularly rich in naringenin, which both may provide potential protection against cancer. What matters though is less the kind of citrus you eat than to benefit from an assortment.

This three-citrus dressing melds the flavors of orange, lemon and lime while honey mustard in the background balances their tartness and adds bite. Their blended flavors make a refreshing change from the traditional French-style, wine vinegar-based dressing usually paired with spinach, and a good marinade for the chicken, as well.

Vegetable Rice

Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken with Three Citrus Dressing

  • 1 lb. skinless and boneless chicken breast
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. honey mustard
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 packed cups spinach leaves, stemmed
  • 1 (11 oz.) can mandarin orange sections, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional, for garnish

Cut chicken lengthwise into 1-inch strips and place in resealable plastic bag.

Place garlic on cutting board and sprinkle on salt. Finely chop garlic, then turn blade sideways, press it against garlic and drag down and to the side to smear garlic and salt together. Repeat chopping and smearing until garlic is a chunky paste. Scoop it up with knife blade and transfer mashed garlic to small bowl. Add orange, lime and lemon juices, cumin, stir in honey mustard, and add pepper to taste. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of oil.

Pour 1/2 cup of dressing into bag with chicken and seal, then massage to coat chicken strips. Marinate chicken in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to cook, use paper towels to pat chicken dry. Discard marinade.

Cook chicken in heated grillpan or over outdoor grill on medium-high heat until pieces are white in center at thickest point, about 5 minutes, turning them over every minute to prevent charring. Transfer to plate and let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch pieces.

Arrange 2 cups of spinach in each of four wide, shallow salad bowls and top with one-fourth of chicken. Whisk remaining tablespoon of oil into dressing, then drizzle it over salads. Garnish with mandarin orange sections or chopped walnuts, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 250 calories, 10 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrate,
25 g protein 2 g dietary fiber, 140 mg sodium

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

All active news articles