Baby Spinach Salad with Sesame Seeds

spinachsalad_Recently I have been leafing through my old recipe notebook I had used for long years before the existence of this blog. I was surprised – and even shocked – to see so many fantastic but forgotten recipes. This simple salad of Asian inspiration is one of the many dishes I regret not having made for such a long time. I have no idea when and where I found this recipe, but I remember I used to prepare it already ten years ago. At the time raw spinach leaves were a completely novelty to me and most people I knew, not to mention toasted sesame seeds or the presence of soy sauce in the vinaigrette. All this made such a salad appear utterly exotic. Nowadays, raw young spinach leaves seem as natural as a lettuce, while sesame seeds and soy sauce have become a staple in my kitchen, but I’m glad I dug out this old recipe because I still enjoy the mixture of flavours as much as I did ten years ago.


When I prepared this salad ten years ago I certainly didn’t have rice vinegar or sesame oil, but since now I use both products regularly, I wanted to see if they would improve the taste. And they did. If you don’t have either of them, use any oil you like and any vinegar you have.

It is very important to toast the sesame seeds just before sprinkling them onto spinach leaves. It improves the flavours greatly and adds a lovely toasted aroma “old” toasted seeds no longer give.

The ratio of the vinaigrette’s ingredients is the one I prefer. Taste it and adjust to your own preferences (obviously, if using normal soy sauce, you might prefer to use a smaller amount).

Preparation: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

2 big handfuls of young (baby) spinach leaves

1 tablespoon (or more) white sesame seeds (not toasted)

Sesame vinaigrette:

low sodium soy sauce+sesame oil+rice vinegar in 1:1:1 ratio

freshly ground black pepper

Wash and dry the spinach leaves.

Place the sesame seeds at the bottom of a clean pan.

Warm the pan at low heat and when the seeds start to pop, cover the pan, wait ten more seconds and put aside.

Place the spinach leaves in a big bowl.

Pour the vinaigrette on them and stir delicately, coating all the leaves.

Transfer to a serving bowl.

Sprinkle with freshly toasted sesame seeds and serve.

16 Replies to “Baby Spinach Salad with Sesame Seeds”

  1. How I love simple salads like this! I have some spinach in the garden that’s ready to pick (from seeds I planted in the fall). The is the perfect salad for them. I know I have two handfuls of spinach. 🙂 Great blast from the past Sissi!

    1. Hi, MJ. It is very simple indeed, but I really am glad I have rediscovered it. Make sure you pick only young leaves! I hope you will like it.

  2. Have you tried toasted sesame oil? I recently discovered it here (darned expensive though) but it makes a huge difference. In North America raw spinach has been in style for a very long time usually made into a traditional spinach salad (sliced raw mushrooms, crumbled hard boiled eggs, Mandarin Orange sections (those horrible canned ones in syrup) and some type of sprouts tossed with a generous amount of torn spinach or baby spinach leaves). I’m not sure of the origin of this salad but it’s pretty good if you use real oranges. Did you know that you have to have vitamin C (usually some type of citrus) for the body to be able to absorb the vitamin D from the spinach? I read that many years ago and found it fascinating.
    Here you can buy toasted sesame seeds but you are so right, toasting them just prior to serving makes a huge difference plus the heat and oils released from the seeds helps to soften the firm spinach leaves a bit (oh how I adore a salad slightly wilted by a warm dressing!). Which reminds me of a delicious dressing I used to make with warm orange juice and shallots. I’ll definitely have to blog about that one day (unless I already have

    1. Hi Eva. I have had ONLY toasted sesame oil because it’s the only one Japanese/Korean shops sell. I thought everyone makes sesame oil this way… and then one day I bought a bottle of European sesame oil and it was made with “raw” seeds…. It’s so awful… the worst oil I’ve ever had; and since it’s “high quality” virgin oil… I cannot even use it in a mixture for deep-frying…).
      I didn’t know. Maybe in this case it’d be a good idea to substitute the vinegar with some fresh lemon juice? Thus the vitamin D would be absorbed… Many people don’t know that calcium is not absorbed by body without fat and think that low-fat yogurts, milk or fresh low-fat cheese will do anything for their bones… A doctor once told me this, saying the best diary for calcium intake is the fattest hard cheese (such as parmesan).

  3. those baby spinach leaves are just beautiful; they sit glistening in that lovely sesame vinaigrette in all of their glory. I just love this recipe – the simplicity and the taste that I have no trouble imagining. This salad is also special to me for another reason… my mom (10 kids) was not a cook or baker by any stretch. There are very few recipes that I associate with her but she did make what she called an “Asian salad” that featured spinach, rice and raisins with a soy sauce dressing. I was so proud of her salad growing up and I will forever associate spinach and soy sauce with my mom, so thank you for that nice memory too. xx

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly for the compliments. I was really touched by your comment. I guess sometimes even very simple dishes can surprise us with old memories… I am certain that if my mum had been making such a salad, she would also call it Asian and I would have been very proud of such an exotic treat contrary to other children’s boring European dishes 🙂

  4. I haven’t checked my old recipe notes and boxes… who knows I might find really good recipes there. 😀 It’s great that you also recommend to toast the sesame seeds before using. It does help a lot and it only requires some time. We always have spinach in the fridge. This recipe will be very handy!

    1. Thank you, Nami. I’m sure you will find jewels in your old recipe notes… I used to buy already toasted Japanese sesame seeds, but when I discovered the difference it makes to use freshly toasted, I do this on my own.

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