Warm salads for chilly days
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Soft crumbly cheese, cherry tomatoes that burst with juiciness, crisp lettuce and cucumber tossed with a medley of herbs, crunchy croutons and generous drizzles of creamy dressing – salads are often the side dish that become the main event.
However, in the colder months of winter, tucking into a raw assortment of vegetables isn’t the most appetising option – especially when you’d rather be indulging in comfort foods like mashed potatoes, soup or cheesy garlic bread.
Warm salads sound like a culinary faux pas. However, they can be deliciously wholesome and the perfect way to eat seasonal vegetables during flu season when your body needs nourishment most.
From roasted vegetables to quinoa, lentils, potatoes and grilled proteins - the options for warm winter salad are bountiful. Eat them as a side or as the main affair at any time of day.
3 warm winter salads that are comforting and delicious:
Roasted vegetable lentil salad
Roasted vegetables require little prep. All you need to do is coat them with olive oil and season then pop them in the pan which is why they're the perfect hassle free addition to any meal. Paired with a herby dressing and creamy cheese, this salad can stand alone or make for an enticing side dish.
1 large aubergine
1 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 small butternut squash
350g brown lentils (canned or cooked)
3 garlic cloves
100 g feta cheese
4 tbs chopped fresh coriander
4 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp oregano
75 ml water
Pop chopped veggies onto a large baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, oregano. Roast in an oven preheated to 200ºC until tender and golden.
Make the drizzle. Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl, add 50 ml olive oil, chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper, mix together.
Heat a drizzle of oil in the frying pan on medium to high heat, add minced garlic, cumin, cook for 1 minute. Stir in lentils, add water, simmer until the water is reduced, then remove from the heat.
Add the veggies to the lentil and mix. Serve with feta crumbles and herby drizzle.
Pesto chicken and vegetable salad
Loaded with herbs, Parmesan cheese and toasted nuts, pesto is full of flavour, adding its vibrant green hue to meals in the most mouth-watering way. This dish has all your basic elements – protein, tonnes of greens from the fresh veggies and delicious carbs so although it’s a salad, it’s also a whole meal.
1 cup chopped Parmesan
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups (packed) basil leaves
3/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 broccoli, cut into florets
Bunch of asparagus
2 large courgettes, ribboned
500g cups baby potatoes
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Put all the pesto ingredients into a blender or small food processor and blend till well combined
Take 1/3 of the pesto and put it into a bowl. Add the chopped chicken. Ideally let it marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. If you don’t have time, that’s fine, it will still be.
Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes till the chicken is fully cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking, put the washed potatoes in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a rolling boil and let it cook for about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are almost cooked, add the broccoli. I only like to cook the broccoli for 1 – 2 minutes. Then add the asparagus.
Take a large colander, put it in the sink and add the courgette ribbons. When all the veg is ready, drain by pouring into the colander. This will lightly wilt the courgettes but they’re still be fresh.
Add the olive oil and extra lemon juice to the remaining pesto to make a dressing. Season to taste. Mix some of it through the veg. Keep some spare.
Put the veg into your dish. When it’s ready, add the chicken and serve.
Zest a lemon on top just before serving. Serve the extra pesto with it.
Warm halloumi and quinoa salad
Wholesome grains, peppery leafy greens, crunchy roasted veggies and gooey, salty halloumi come together to form a delectable winter salad. Infused with fresh herbs and seasoning from the stock, every element packs a flavourful punch.
1 sweet potato peeled and cut into large chunks
4 peppers (recipe used 2 x red, 1 x yellow and 1 x orange but use whatever you have)
2 red onions cut into wedges
Spray oil (or Frylight)
Veg stock pot/cube making up to 600ml
2 garlic cloves
200g dried quinoa
Handful of parsley, chopped
Roast the sweet potato, peppers and onion (sprayed with oil and coated in the Harissa paste in 100ml of the stock) for 30 mins at 180ºC in the oven (or until slightly charred).
Meanwhile boil up the rest of the stock, add the quinoa and simmer for 15 mins.
Grill the halloumi pieces in a pan with a little oil until golden on each side.
Once all cooked, mix together including the parsley and add the halloumi and rocket.