Warm salads to bowl you over

Like their cool counterparts, warm salads can be packed with the nutrient-dense ingredients you’re trying to eat more of. Pivot to these cozy early spring salads that are, without question, hot stuff. They’re most certainly not your standard bowl o’ greens!

Bistro Salad with Caramelized Vegetables

This virtuous salad is reminiscent of what you’d be served at a well-reviewed bistro. For a special finishing touch, garnish egg with a pinch of smoked salt.

2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 in (1.25 cm) chunks
2 large parsnips, cut into 1/2 in (1.25 cm) chunks
3 cups (750 mL) cubed celery root
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grapeseed or avocado oil
4 large eggs
3 Tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grainy mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated or very finely minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
8 cups (2 L) frisee and/or tender salad greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup (80 mL) almonds, preferably toasted, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C) and place rimmed baking sheet in oven as it heats.

In large bowl, toss carrots, parsnips, and celery root with grapeseed or avocado oil and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Spread out on hot baking sheet and roast until vegetables are golden and tender, about 30 minutes, stirring once halfway.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan, bring 3 in (7.5 cm) of water to a simmer (the point when you see bubbles coming up to the surface, without full rolling bubbles). Into small bowl, crack an egg, then gently ease egg into simmering water. Repeat with remaining eggs, waiting until white of egg in water is opaque before adding the next egg (about 30 seconds apart). Poach until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels as they are done.

In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt.

In large bowl, toss frisee or salad greens and roasted vegetables with dressing. Divide salad among 4 plates and top each with a poached egg. Sprinkle with chopped almonds.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 374 calories; 12 g protein; 24 g total fat (4 g sat. fat); 32 g total carbohydrates (8 g sugars, 9 g fiber); 403 mg sodium

Chicken Farro Salad with Chunky Blueberry Dressing

The blueberry dressing is a wonderful counterpoint to the earthy elements of this simple yet satisfying salad. If farro is not available, other grains, including spelt berries, sorghum, or quinoa, can be used.

1 cup (250 mL) farro
2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tsp (10 mL) lemon zest
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme
1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
2 Tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
8 cups (2 L) baby spinach or mesclun mix
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 lb (450 g) cooked chicken, sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped parsley

In medium-sized saucepan, place farro and 3 cups (750 mL) water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, or until grains are tender. Drain well.

In small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic; heat for 30 seconds. Add blueberries, 2 Tbsp (30 mL) water, lemon zest, dried thyme, red pepper flakes, and salt; heat for 3 minutes, or until blueberries have softened and released some of their juices. Stir in balsamic vinegar.

Divide greens, farro, bell pepper, and chicken among 4 serving plates. Top with warm blueberry dressing and scatter parsley overtop.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 432 calories; 34 g protein; 7 g total fat (0 g sat. fat); 56 g total carbohydrates (11 g sugars, 11 g fiber); 260 mg sodium

Broccoli Confetti Lentil Salad

Black, pearly lentils serve as a springboard for a highly nutritious salad that seems more sophisticated than its ease of prep would suggest. French green lentils also hold their shape with cooking, so they would be an adequate substitution for black lentils.

1 cup (250 mL) black (beluga) lentils
2 tsp (10 mL) grapeseed or avocado oil
1 cup (250 mL) chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 large head broccoli, florets finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried red pepper flakes
1 cup (250 mL) sliced roasted red pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped dill
2 Tbsp (30 mL) capers
1/4 cup (60 mL) pumpkin seeds

In medium-sized saucepan, place lentils, 4 cups (1 L) water, and a couple pinches of salt, if desired. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain well.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion and heat until softened and beginning to darken. Stir in garlic and heat for 30 seconds. Add broccoli and heat, stirring a couple of times, for 5 minutes. Pour in 2/3 cup (160 mL) water; cover and heat until broccoli is bright green and liquid has absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in lentils, lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes; heat for 1 minute. Stir in roasted red pepper, dill, and capers.

Serve topped with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 321 calories; 20 g protein; 8 g total fat (1 g sat. fat); 48 g total carbohydrates (7 g sugars, 20 g fiber); 479 mg sodium

Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD