Photos by 
Jessicarobyn Keyser
Jessicarobyn Keyser

I Stole This Spinach Salad

by 
Elise Seyfried
September 14, 2021

He was an unlikely spy, to put it mildly. But, way back in the day, my brand new husband Steve did some serious sleuthing for me, all in the name of love, and food. Isn’t it “for better or worse, in bechamel and in Hollandaise”? If not, it should be.

The scene was The Public House on Roswell Square, a popular restaurant in suburban Atlanta, Georgia back in the late 1970s. Steve had been hired as a waiter. Mind you, he had absolutely no restaurant background whatsoever. But Steve was an actor, and it was, and still is, an unwritten law that every aspiring actor must work in a restaurant. 

At any rate, during his training, Steve learned the menu, which was really no more difficult than the script for “The Odd Couple,” he reported to me. Steve was informed by the manager that the formulas for the specialties of the house, including the intriguingly named Oyster Filet (not the filet of an oyster, which would have been a very, very tiny dish, but rather filet mignon stuffed with oysters), were closely guarded secrets. Loose lips, his boss warned, sink culinary ships. 


No items found.

Naturally, I was determined to obtain these recipes no matter the risk, and so began Steve’s perilous forays into the restaurant kitchen. At odd hours, my husband would sneak into the Public House pantry, open a drawer, get a quick look at the recipe box, then call me with the memorized scoop (he couldn’t chance taking the time to write things down). He proved to be pretty good at recalling cups and quarts. Problem was, the quantities of ingredients for each dish were enormous, as one might expect at a large eatery. So, at quiet moments during his shift, I’d hear from my spy. I’d pick up the phone, and I’d hear a whispered “Quick! 20 pounds of cream cheese; 12 cups of sugar; 3 cups of Kahlua” (ah! The key to their famous cheesecake!) He’d abruptly hang up, and I’d scribble down the ingredients and amounts. Then I’d use my really mediocre math skills to try and cut the proportions of everything down to size. Some attempts were tragedies - several Kahlua cheesecakes went straight into the trash - but a few were triumphs. I still make their delicious house spinach and bean sprout salad, dressed with peanut oil and soy sauce. 

The restaurant closed long ago, and the statute of limitations has probably run out. But if I were you, I’d still prep this beauty by flashlight, and swear your dinner guests to secrecy. Just to be on the safe side.


Stolen Spinach Salad

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Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb baby spinach

1 can water chestnuts, drained and sliced

1 cup bean sprouts (sunflower sprouts and pea sprouts are good substitutes)

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

3/4 cup peanut oil

1/2 cup sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1-inch piece of ginger, minced


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 | 
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb baby spinach

1 can water chestnuts, drained and sliced

1 cup bean sprouts (sunflower sprouts and pea sprouts are good substitutes)

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

3/4 cup peanut oil

1/2 cup sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1-inch piece of ginger, minced


Ingredients

1 lb baby spinach

1 can water chestnuts, drained and sliced

1 cup bean sprouts (sunflower sprouts and pea sprouts are good substitutes)

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

3/4 cup peanut oil

1/2 cup sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1-inch piece of ginger, minced


Directions

1. Blend soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds, garlic, and ginger in food processor.

2. While machine is running, add peanut and sesame oils in a thin stream.

3. In a salad bowl, combine spinach, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, and mushrooms.

4. Toss spinach mixture with the dressing.

(This makes extra dressing.)

About the Author

Elise Seyfried

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