You know it's good to eat fresh salads regularly, but some days it's just so cold outside that the last thing you want is something cold to eat! When you need your salad fix but are avoiding the cold, try out a wilted greens salad made with a warm skillet-made vinaigrette. These simple salads can be done with as little as greens, olive oil, and basic fridge condiments, and they're elegant enough to serve up for a dinner party or date night.
Read on to learn how to make a wilted greens salad without needing a formal recipe.
Select the greens.
First, select the greens you’ll use in your salad. Any leafy greens or lettuces will work, but keep in mind that you won’t actually be cooking them at all. You’ll merely be drizzling a warm vinaigrette over them, so a hearty winter green like kale won’t wilt down quite as much as baby arugula or baby lettuce. So, if you like a bit of crunch left in your salad, opt for a heartier winter green. If you like something that will wilt down more, opt for baby greens or lettuces. Whichever greens you choose, clean and dry them, then chop coarsely and set aside in a large bowl.
Create the warm vinaigrette.
Next it’s time to make the vinaigrette, only you’ll be building it one ingredient at a time over heat in a skillet. For starters, heat a few healthy glugs of olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet. Add chopped shallots or onions, along with any herbs, spice, or other ingredient “flavors” (like garlic or ginger) you’d like. Sauté them gently until just softened, stirring, a few minutes. Note that you’re not trying to caramelize or fry any of the ingredients here. You’re just softening them up and letting those flavors come out and marry together.
Once your ingredients are softened in the warm oil, consider adding chopped nuts to the skillet to gently toast with the rest of your ingredients. Nuts aren’t necessary for a wilted greens salad, but they add a really nice element of crunch to an otherwise soft-textured dish. If adding chopped nuts, try pecans, walnuts, or almonds, and cook them in the mixture until they become fragrant, stirring, a few minutes.
Finally, remove the skillet from heat and add the remaining ingredients which will make it a vinaigrette. Any combination of mustard, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice are great options here. Mustard helps to emulsify the vinaigrette, and adds just a hint of tangy bite, and can be optional to add. But balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, on the other hand, are rather essential elements of the vinaigrette, as they balance out the thick, slippery oil and savory ingredients in there.
Whisk it all together quickly—while it’s still warm!—and you’re ready to toss.
Pour over greens, toss, and serve.
Finally, you’re ready toss and serve. Pour the warm vinaigrette over your prepared green in the bowl, and toss quickly, going light on the vinaigrette and reserving a fair amount to drizzle over the salad once plated. You want just enough vinaigrette to hit the greens so that they begin to wilt and get lightly coated, but you want to be careful not to oversaturate them and make them soggy.
Once tossed, arrange the greens on serving plates and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette to taste.
Enjoy your warm wilted salad on those chilly winter days!
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Wilted greens image via Shutterstock