Salad lovers, take heart. While summer salads are all crunchy and refreshing, winter salads can be warm and luxurious. Salads in winter take on a different persona than their summer cousins. Winter salads have a responsibility to deliver the refreshing experience of a salad but with richer and deeper flavors and textures. Preparation is simple and so is clean up – charming attributes in any season.
Warm salads can provide a base for a variety of roasted root vegetables, winter squash, mushrooms, seasonal fruit, nuts and seeds, grains and legumes, crispy bacon or pancetta, grilled salmon, poached eggs and cheese. This list will hopefully inspire you, but don’t be limited by it.
Escarole is available year round in Northern California but it’s sturdy texture and slightly bitter flavor lends itself to a warm salad. Radicchio and arugula are also strong flavored hearty greens that work well tossed with a warm vinaigrette. I have put together a recipe for a warm salad that can be enjoyed any time but I especially love it for breakfast or brunch. It’s eggs and bacon – but still a salad.
Something to remember when you are making a vinaigrette for a salad with this much personality is to use quality oil and vinegar that enhance the salad components and don’t get lost. The McEvoy Aged Balsamic Vinegar has generous flavor notes well as good acidity. The rich and peppery McEvoy Extra Virgin Olive Oil balances and complements the salad with a little touch of Wildflower Honey to round it out and pull everything together.
Warm Winter Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons McEvoy Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon McEvoy Wildflower Honey
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup McEvoy Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Place all ingredients but the olive oil in a jar and shake. When everything is well mixed, add olive oil and shake again until emulsified.
- 6 cups of winter greens (escarole, radicchio and arugula), washed and spun dry
- 8 ounces of fingerling potatoes
- 1 teaspoon McEvoy Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
- ¼ cup herbed bread crumbs
- 2 poached eggs
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Cut fingerling potatoes in half, toss with McEvoy extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan or a saute pan with an oven-proof handle and roast until tender and browned. Remove from oven and keep warm.
- Place greens and potatoes in a stainless bowl.
Here is your setup:
- Place bowl over a low flame or over a simmering pot of water.
- Drizzle half of the vinaigrette onto the salad greens. (The vinaigrette recipe is sufficient for double the salad recipe.)
- Using tongs, toss greens with vinaigrette until they are slightly wilted.
- Place on a warmed plate, top with crumbled bacon, poached egg and bread crumbs.
A few tips:
*When you are prepping the escarole, keep the outside dark green leaves for braising and use the tender, blanched interior leaves for the warm salad.
Here are the mixed greens in the bowl
Here is the salad complete and ready to enjoy!
*When poaching eggs – buy super fresh eggs. They have the largest proportion of thick white and will hold their shape best when added to the poaching liquid. (They taste better too!) You can also remove the runny part of the white before cooking. Crack the egg into a dish and then slip into a slotted or perforated spoon. Let the thin white drain for a few seconds before sliding the egg into the pan.