Winter is almost here, which means colder weather and cravings for warming comfort food. While salads may not come to mind when you think of winter comfort foods, warm salads may change your mind. The contrasting of temperatures, textures, and flavors just might make warm salads you new winter comfort food of choice. Here’s how you can build the perfect warm salad.
While lettuces are the most common greens associated with salads, they are not the only ones available. For your warm salad, choose leafy greens that can be slightly cooked or steamed. You can add these warm greens to your favorite fresh salad greens or use them as a base alone. Mix and match until you find your favorite blend.
Some great choices for a warm base are kale (any variety), collard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach.
Toppings help bring salads to life, and with warm salads, there’s a limitless variety available. You can add your favorite toppings to create a salad that suits your tastes, preferences, and resources. For example, you can use last night’s leftover roasted vegetables or caramelized onions to add depth. If you go with leftovers, you may want to mix in fresh veggies as well to balance both the crunchy and soft textures.
Warm or Cold Toppings:
- Cruciferous Vegetables (turnips, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
- Vegetables (green onions, cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers, peas, asparagus, zucchini, squash, tomatoes)
- Fruits (mandarin oranges, figs, dried fruits – cranberries, raisins, blueberries)
- Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax) and Nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews, peanuts, or brazil nuts)
Whether warm or cold, if you’re eating a salad for a meal, adding a complex carbohydrate or starch to it will help sustain your energy. Warm salads are great for potatoes, whole grains, beans, legumes, or another type of starch.
Some healthy choices include freekeh, wheatberries, quinoa, rice, faro, millet, barley, sweet potato, beans or lentils.
- Plant Protein
A serving of protein helps to nutritionally balance your salad. There are even some plant options that double as a protein and a complex carbohydrate, like quinoa or beans.
Consider these quality protein choices: tofu (you can make your own or buy it premade), tempeh, beans or lentils, edamame, green peas, quinoa, wheatberries
- Add Flair
A great way to enjoy healthy food more is to add flair to keep it interesting. Adding a small amount of tasty food will help to keep your taste buds happy.
Try topping salads with roasted nuts or spiced seeds (avoid those made with extra oils). Or try crumbled toasted pita chips, warmed capers or olives, or even sundried tomatoes on your salad. Warm salads are so versatile that, again, the possibilities are endless.
A delicious dressing or sauce can take salads to the next level. They are also a great way to incorporate healthy fats into the meal. To keep it healthier, choose dressings made from whole foods, such as tahini, avocado, or cashews.