I love salad, it’s my favorite thing, and I want to eat it every night! But it can be so disappointing this time of year. Hard, flavorless tomatoes, pale icy lettuces. Bleh. So we’ve reinvented the salad to be a warm mix of lightly cooked vegetables mixed with olive oil, balsamic and herbs, and topped with crumbly, melty cheese. I decided to make a version of a Greek salad, because I had olives and feta, but you could do this with any mix of vegetables, herbs, and the cheese of your choice. It would be good with chard, fennel and goat cheese, or pears, walnuts and bleu. You could mix up the vinegars as well, if you’re feeling fancy. Or try nut oils. (I don’t have any, but I wish I did!) The trick is to cook the vegetables just as much as they need to be cooked…so they still have a bit of life and color and crunch. The cooking brings out the flavor of the winter tomatoes and the herbs. I used Kale, because it has such a nice texture and flavor once it’s cooked. Do the Kale a favor and cook it earlier in the day when nobody is around, then drain it and put it in the fridge till you’re ready to assemble everything. It tastes so much better than it smells when it’s cooking! And I added raw spinach right at the end, which wilts slightly as it meets the other warm vegetables, adding some brightness and crunch.
Here’s Blind Willie McTell with Warm it up to Me
One small bunch of kale, cleaned, boiled in salted water for about 10 minutes, cooled, roughly chopped
2 or 3 cups spinach, washed and roughly chopped
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 clove garlic
1 t. oregano
1 t. rosemary
1 t. capers
drizzle of honey
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the herbs, shallot, garlic and zucchini, and stir fry till the zucchini is soft and starts to brown. Then add the tomato, olives, capers. Cook for a few minutes until the tomato starts to soften. Add the cooked Kale and stir to mix. Shake on some balsamic, drizzle with honey, season with salt and plenty of pepper.
Put the spinach in a salad bowl. Top it with all of your cooked veg and toss slightly. Crumble the feta over the top.