Warm Winter Salad

Lately I’ve been asking my audience on Instagram what type of foods they like and to my surprise, warm salads seem to be a BIG hit!! So I figured I’d share my favourite way to make a seasonal warm salad- with lots of tips on ways to make it your own!

But first, some education and nutrition talk, as per usual….

If warm salads sound a bit strange to you that’s okay- I remember when I first laughed at the thought of a “warm salad” – what?! Excuse me?! How and why?!

However, in Ayurveda they actually recommend having the majority of your salads warmed or cooked! The reason being that raw salads are considered cold, rough, and hard to digest. Depending on your Dosha, this could help or aggravate symptoms in the body.

Nutritionally speaking, warming certain foods is thought to increase the bioavailability of nutrients in leafy greens (and some vegetables) and may even increase the nutritional value, simply by slightly cooking or steaming the vegetables.

Not only that, most leafy greens will have higher concentrations of an anti-nutrient called oxalate (oxalic acid) which has pros and cons. There are very small amounts in most fruits and vegetables which can have some benefit however, most leafy greens and some vegetables will have such high concentrations (ex: rhubarb leaves are SO high in oxalate that it they are considered poisonous and could be fatal) that they can interfere with calcium/mineral absorption and perforate mucus membrane cells damaging the gut and increasing “leakiness” which could naturally exacerbating leaky gut or symptoms related to it. This is why steaming your leafy greens can help to increase the bioavailability in the food and potentially increase nutritional value as steaming or heating the food will reduce oxalate and allow the body to get optimal benefit and absorption from the food.

An added bonus to lightly steaming your vegetables is that it helps to pre-digest the food. Meaning, if you have digestive issues, experience stress/anxiety/loss of appetite or have nutritional deficiencies, it is usually recommended to lightly steam or heat your food so that it is not as shocking to the body/digestive system and can be enjoyed, assimilated and absorbed with much more ease.

That being said, in order to keep the most prana, or life-force energy in the food is to enjoy your food as fresh as possible; the longer salads (or food) sit or “wait” to be enjoyed, the amount of ama, or digestive toxins, is increased. This works well for the warm salad method as, warm salads are generally best enjoyed when JUST cooked or ready; even waiting an hour to enjoy a warm salad is not as appealing, in my humble opinion.

    • To make it more filling, consider adding a heartier base such as:
      • 2 cups quinoa, rice, beans or legumes – cooked in vegetable broth or herbs/spices for more flavour
    • For your leafy greens base:
      • 4 – 6 cups roughly chopped seasonal kale, swiss chard (use the coloured stocks, too!), collard greens, beet greens or spinach – leave raw and set aside until ready to use
    • For your hearty toppings:
      • 1 – 2 cups steamed or pre-cooked squash (acorn, zucchini, butternut, delicate, etc.), carrots, brussels sprouts, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, yams or other root veggie of choice – diced in large chunks
    • For your seasonal toppings:
      • 1 – 2 cups of seasonal items local to you. Suggestions could be: fresh herbs, arugula/bitters, seasonal fruit (apples, berries, figs..), citrus fruit (orange, grapefruit..), pomegranate, beans or legumes (toasted/roasted), mushrooms – left whole or lightly chunked
    • For your fun / flavour toppings:
      • 1/4 – 1/2 cup avocado, goat cheese / cheese, raw nuts & seeds, dried fruit, sprouts, bacon bits, herbs, spices, etc – left whole or lightly chunked.
    • **ingredients in bold are the items I chose for this salad
    • 1/2 cup high quality unrefined oil such as:
      • olive, avocado, sesame, flaxseed or MCT/Coconut
    • 1/4 cup acid or vinegar such as:
      • ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar), Lemon Juice, Rice Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Red Vinegar, Citrus Fruit Juice, Homemade Flavoured Vinegars, etc.
    • 2 – 4 tbsp flavouring such as:
      • freshly diced garlic, shallots, ginger, honey/maple syrup, dijon / mustard, avocado oil mayonnaise, fresh or dried herbs, fresh or dried spices, hot sauces, tahini, soy sauce, fish sauce, etc.
    • 1 tsp chia seeds *optional*
      • Increases nutritional value, adds high quality EFA’s and makes it thicker/more “gelatinous” kind of like a lemon poppyseed dressing.
    • **ingredients in bold are the items I chose for this salad
    1. Cook your hearty base ingredients if using. Ideally, add 1 cup dry to 2 cups water/broth, add 1 tbsp butter, any herbs/spices you would like and cover. Bring ingredients up to a boil and then turn down to  a simmer for 20 – 30min until just cooked (ideally, don’t over cook, undercook if you can).
    2. Prep your hearty toppings if they are not already pre-cooked. To cook them faster, chop them into your desired pieces, boil until slightly cooked and then roast in the oven at a high temperature or pan fry to finish.
    3. Prep your seasonal toppings and roughly chop up your leafy greens. Have them separate but close by.
    4. Prep your fun toppings if they need to be prepped – generally they are more for decoration so you don’t need to do too much prep!
    5. Before cooking the salad, make sure you have made your salad dressing – the cooking process is generally fast so it’s nice to have it already made!
    6. Take all of the salad dressing ingredients and place them in a blender or small mason jar. Blend on high or shack vigorously in a sealed mason jar until ingredients are well combined.
    7. Next, heat a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat until the full pan is heated. Lower the heat to medium and add a chunk of butter, coconut oil or a splash of olive oil.
    8. If you want to re-heat any of your toppings or give them a quick pan-fry add them in now and sear for about 2min.
    9. If they are already ready, then add your leafy greens and cook for about 1-2min using tongs to toss them.
    10. Add in any other ingredients – I usually add in any remaining leafy greens and some hearty/seasonal toppings to heat up.
    11. To serve: place warmed ingredients onto a bed of rice/quinoa and add additional toppings. Drizzle with salad dressing and enjoy!
    12. Alternatively, you could toss all of the ingredients together in one big bowl to have all of the ingredients mixed together.

That I also teach cooking classes?! Come learn with me in the virtual kitchen! Check out my calendar HERE!


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