I'm a huge fan of salads. I love a big curated bowl of veggies that fills me up and doesn't make me feel like a bloated mess. But in the colder months it can be tough to make a truly amazing salad with the available produce and what's more, I don't find a bowl of raw, cold, crunchy, veggies appetizing in the Fall and Winter.
Enter the game changer: my Warm Wilted Greens Salad.
It's easy as pie to whip up and there are about 1,000,000,000,000 variations you could make so you don't feel like you're eating the same salad for half the year.
I've outline the basic, OG Warm Wilted Greens Salad for you here, but please feel free to elaborate, substitute, or change whatever you want!
Okay, here we go. This is what you'll need:
1 Bag/bunch Spinach
Half an onion
1 Tbs Butter
1 Large Zucchini (Courgette if you are outside of the U.S.)
Roughly 1 Tbs Chicken/Veggie Broth
Handful Roughly Chopped Walnuts
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper
Note: The walnuts I had on hand were pre-chopped, so I don't show that as a step here. I trust you're clever enough to figure out how to roughly chop whole walnuts if that's what you've got.
First, rinse and dry your spinach and set aside in a large bowl.
Second, you will want to chop your onion.
No need to go crazy dicing them. I actually prefer sliced onion in this salad, it adds a nice texture and some bulk.
Once your onions are sliced, melt your tablespoon of butter in a skillet.
If you're a butter hater, you can also use olive or another cooking oil for this, but actual butter really works best.
Next, put your onions in the pan on low heat, making sure to separate them out, you don't what a big chunk of onion in your salad. Plus they cook a bit quicker separated.
Push them around the pan a little bit to make sure they all get a little kiss of butter.
Now, if you're a good kitchen multi-tasker, go ahead and start dealing with your zucchini and just remember to give your onions a little push around the pan every few minutes. You're not going to caramelize them all the way (unless you want to), but you still don't want them to brown burn at all.
If you are not a good kitchen multi-tasker, just hang out for about 20 minutes pushing your onions around in the pan. You'll probably have seen a little trick on Pinterest where you add baking soda to your onions to make them caramelize quickly, DO NOT DO THIS. They look normal and caramelized, but they taste like butt. It's a bit of a tortoise and hare thing with properly cooking onions: slow and steady wins the race.
Now, whether you are multi-tasking, or not, here is what you will do with your zucchini.
First, give it a good rinse!
Then you'll want to quarter and dice it.
At this point, you'll want to go back to your onions which are either just becoming softened and beginning to caramelize, or you are coming back to already perfectly cooked onions.
That's what you want them to look like at this step ^^. If you need more butter/oil during the cooking process, go for it, just don't go crazy.
Now it's time for the zucchini and the onions to unite and become delicious.
Go little zucchini! Fulfill your destiny!
Sprinkle on a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, and your fresh thyme.
Keep pushing those bad boys around in the skillet until your zucchini is soft enough to cut in half with just your spatula. You want them to still have firmness to them.
Now, we deglaze!
Pour in about a tablespoon of your broth and turn the heat up to medium high. You want the liquid to simmer and evaporate as it softens your zucchini and onions while adding flavor.
Keep sautéing until most of the liquid has cooked off and you are left with fully cooked onions and zucchini coated in a buttery sauce.
Then pour them over your spinach.
It's the warmth and liquid of the onions and zucchini that make the salad warm and every so slightly wilt down the spinach leaves.
Now crumble on your goat cheese and walnuts.
Give it a little toss and serve!
I've become pretty obsessed with that bread and have basically made a loaf a week for a few months. I do sub out the ground almonds for ground walnuts because I'm allergic. But, it's the perfect nutty, hearty pair for the Warm Wilted Greens Salad.
Now that you've seen the basic principle of the salad, I'm sure you can see what I mean by how easy it is to vary. I've made it quite a few different ways with different greens, veggies, nuts, wine instead of chicken broth, served it as a side dish, or the main course, or along side a roast chicken. There are endless options, really.
You could also do this as a work lunch if you kept the greens and the sautéed items in two separate containers until game time. I tell you, this wilted salad formula knows no bounds. But most important, it's a fantastic way to keep munching on healthy veggies well into the winter months. My best advice is use what you like that is in season.
Now go forth and wilt those greens!