We can do SO MUCH better than a bowl of lettuce.
Don’t get me wrong, I can get behind a salad when it’s good. But even the best salads, the ones with lots of textures & flavours, protein & crunch to satisfy a genuinely hungry person could be improved upon. We’ve done things like grilled our romaine, drizzled leaves with warm bacon dressing, topped salads with grilled slabs of Halloumi and done pretty much everything we can to jazz up the sensible dinnertime staple. I think it’s pretty clear that we’re open to some new improvements on the salad status-quo. Aren’t we?
A cozier kind of salad
It’s fall now, which means I’ve moved into the phase of the year where I pretty much turn my nose up at any cold food. I do, however, always love a dinner that’s heavy on the veg, and the textural variety of salads can be great this time of year. I just need to feel cozy when I’m eating it, and even more importantly, satisfied after. That’s where the skillet salad comes in. This is the kind of salad I’ll have on a rainy, cold, miserable day, and feel warmed from the inside. It’s fresh, vibrant, crunchy, warm… It kinda just checks all the boxes.
What difference does a hot pan make?
The beauty behind the skillet salad is that the residual heat from a skillet, combined with the hot stuff you cooked in it, give the more traditional leafy elements of the salad a chance to get just a little bit warm and get ever so slightly wilted in the heat. The result of this warm hit is a more succulent leaf. It makes the greens a bit juicier, rather than straight up crunchy. If you’re weird about wilted greens (and I am with you in certain situations), go with a leaf that is acceptable to you in either it’s raw OR cooked form. Something like Kale, Escarole or mustard greens). If you’re one of those people who like two hour old Caesar Salad – and I know you’re out there – you’re going to LOVE this.
I made my first skillet salad last week for the very special occasion of a girlfriend coming over for dinner. She, like me, takes eating seriously and it had been awhile since we’d hung out, so I wanted it to be good. We were both really into it. It was so delicious and satisfying and I will be making many many more as the chilly months continue.
The basic format for a skillet salad:
- HOT STUFF – In mine it was skillet-roasted beets, carrots & shallots cut big (like, halved) so they had big-time “tooth sink-ability” (term coined by Dan Pashman of The Sporkful, one of my all time favourite food podcasts), and tossed in Za’taar.
- COLD STUFF – Could be any leafy thing or combination of leafy things. I went with watercress this time, but contemplated arugula.
- PROTEIN – In this case, hard boiled eggs and big hunks of Bulgarian Feta.
- DRESSING – This one was olive oil, capers & cider vinegar.
Cook all your hot stuff and take the skillet off the heat. Toss in your leafy greens & protein. Dress.
Eat right away, preferably straight out of the skillet. *Bonus points for being a one dish dinner.
I think my next one is going to be some combination of sautéed sugar snap peas, cashews, sesame seeds & radishes. A bit of leftover rotisserie chicken from the grocery store would probably make an appearance too.
More of a video person? Me too. Here’s a quick video where I make another skillet salad in the time that it takes to boil an egg.