Spinach and black plum salad recipe
Credit: John Kernick

In our May 2012 issue, Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi and her mother, Vijaya, cooked up a Mother's Day feast that riffed on some classic dishes from India, including this dish of spinach and black plum salad. "My mother taught me to cook with my heart," she told us, "because cooking is celebration, and food is love."

"This salad is simple, yet it has a bold and beguiling taste." It also employs a very special ingredient: mint, straight from Vijaya's garden. "I first started to use mint—the secret ingredient—in my salads because it had literally taken over my mom's garden!"

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Serves: 6


For dressing:

5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp yuzu or tangerine juice
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

For salad:

3 black plums, firm and not too ripe, pitted and sliced (or a handful of sliced seedless grapes)
½ cup torn fresh mint leaves
6 oz. baby spinach leaves
Crushed sea salt


1. Whisk dressing ingredients in a salad bowl. 2. Just before serving, add all salad ingredients except salt, and toss. 3. Sprinkle sea salt over salad and serve.