I love salad. The crunch, the colors, the unbridled creativity involved in making plants reach their amazing potential. A big plate of vegetables also makes me feel good inside. Nourished. But in the colder months? Not so much. I want something to warm me up! While soup often stands in for salads for me when I want something veg-heavy, there are times when I want to eat something with a fork instead.
Enter the concept of the hot salad. I first saw this idea on TikTok and was captivated by the thought of making a warm salad. And I don’t mean the 1980s version of the “wilted” spinach salad or the more recent travesty of the grilled romaine salad (yuck). I mean an honest to god salad, but, you know, heated up so it’s not cold anymore.
The naysayers will say this is really just a “bowl” or a side dish of roasted vegetables in disguise, but so what? I like the idea of giving boring old salad an upgrade. Making it spicier and sexier, making it “hot”.
This is less a recipe and more of a method, so give it a try, freely substituting for your tastes. I found the following combination incredibly satisfying, even on a wintry day.
Kale, chopped and tough stems removed
White onion, sliced
Bell pepper (whichever color you like), sliced
Garbanzo beans, cooked or canned and drained
Tarragon or other dried herb of choice
Quinoa, cooked in broth
Lemon juice and zest
Salt and pepper
Cook quinoa as per package directions substituting broth for water.
Drain and spread out on a lined sheet pan to cool and dry while oven heats to 350 degrees.
Toss cooled quinoa in a judicious amount of hot chili oil and spread back out on lined pan. Cook in oven until browned and crisp, stirring occasionally.
Remove cooked quinoa from oven, set aside and crank the heat up to 400 degrees.
In a big bowl, combine vegetables and beans, coat with oil and sprinkle liberally with herbs and spices.
Spread veg mix out on a sheet pan and set bowl aside (we will use it again). Roast veg mix in the oven until everything is tender and crisp.
In same big bowl, combine veg mix and the zest and juice of one lemon, toss and taste for salt and pepper.
Serve in bowls and add crunchy quinoa.
This is pretty healthy and satisfying all on its own, but a runny egg on top takes it to the next level.