Salads are a staple of the health-conscious, but as the temperature begins to drop, the diet-friendly dish often falls by the wayside as it's harder to find tomatoes that are actually red and comfort food cravings spike. With the right tricks and ingredients, though, it's easy to make salads cold weather-friendly.
Follow these tips from Iron Chef Cat Cora and try her recipe below, and you'll enjoy salad all winter, no matter how snowy and frigid it may be.
Cora suggests making a warm vinaigrette with mushrooms. Sauté some mushrooms, then set them to the side as you make the dressing: Sauté onion or shallot with a little olive oil, then add vinegar and your favorite herbs. Let the vinaigrette cool down just a bit so it’s not steaming hot, and toss it with the mushrooms. Toss with spinach so that it just begins to wilt.
Choose a Firm Foundation
For a warm salad, “you need something that can stand up to the heat, so choose a stiffer leaf like spinach, romaine, or even a butter leaf,” Cora says. “Things like a baby mixed green or arugula will just wilt immediately and get a little funky.”
Grill to Beat the Chill
Cora recommends searing whole romaine leaves in a pan with olive oil and topping them with something a little heartier such as blue cheese. Or, if you're lucky enough to live in a temperate climate, grill your greens.
Make Your Toppings Timely
Leave seasonal produce such as tomatoes and cucumbers to the summer months. Toppers that are available year-round work better when it's colder. Cora loves to dress salads up with Almond Accents. This time of year her favorite varieties are the honey-roasted almonds with cranberries, sweet roasted pomegranates, and sea salt and cracked black pepper. Sautéed red onion, mushrooms, crispy sage, and capers are also a great way to winterize your salads.
Warm Quinoa Salad
"Aromatic cumin and sweet almonds with cranberries add a Middle Eastern flair to quick-cooking quinoa," Cora says. She likes to serve this with grilled chicken or salmon.
Prep time: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
3/4 cup Wonderful Almond Accents Honey Roasted with Cranberries
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons slivered mint leaves
1 package (5 to 6 ounces) baby spinach or arugula (about 6 cups)
6 chicken breasts (4 ounces each), grilled or roasted and sliced
1. Heat oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté carrot, onion, garlic, cumin, and salt for two minutes; stir in quinoa. Slowly add water, being careful of hot steam. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is evaporated and quinoa is cooked. Stir in almonds, vinegar, and mint.
2. Arrange greens on plates and top with warm quinoa mixture. Add sliced chicken and garnish with additional almonds and fresh mint.
As an editor at SHAPE I have the chance to learn about the healthiest ways to cook, eat, and live from all sorts of experts but I’m also a single girl living in NYC with a busy schedule, active social life, and chocolate cravings. I’m here to share what works for me—and where I need a little help from you.