This week we talked about the No-Lettuce Salad Movement and shared recipes to get you started on the leaf-less life. I don't want to come off as someone who doesn't enjoy a bowl of tender greens in the summer — that's not the case at all. It's just that salad greens are what I wait for in the spring, and I'm very enthusiastic about the first shoots that emerge as spring arrives.
But right now, when the forecast says wintry mix and I'm craving something bright and satisfying, I make a salad of sturdy greens and root veggies, and then I microwave my dressing. Yep — in the microwave it goes.
Salads absolutely have a place in your diet come winter, but often the lettuce brings it down. There are many reasons to leave lettuce out of the mix in the colder months, but the biggest benefit is replacing it with sturdier items — like collards, root veggies, and kales — so you can douse your bowls in a warm dressing made hot in the microwave. Hot dressing instantly transforms a salad into a warm, cozy meal — one that still retains the fresh elements a heaping serving of vegetables provides.
Hot salad dressings aren't a new thing, but often they're whipped up in a skillet and poured over a salad, which in turn has to be eaten right away. Earlier this year, we shared a recipe for lettuce with hot beef dressing, and it ended up on the favorite list of many editors. Yes, there's lettuce in this dish, but it was the inspiration for this tip, so it can sit with us.
But how do we take this idea of a hot dressing and make it more accessible — even when we're on the go? We microwave our dressings! Hey, they don't call it better living through science for nothing.
Naturally, certain dressings lend themselves to this more than others. It must be said that anything creamy is out of the picture. But Italian dressing and any vinaigrette is fair game. A few 30-second turns in the microwave transforms balsamic vinaigrette into a tart and tangy sauce to pour over your salad of shredded Brussels sprouts. The heat from the dressing melts them into tender strands that retain crunch. Take that, desk lunch!
You also have the option of making homemade dressings that lend themselves to microwaving, which of course opens up a big, wide world of hot dressings. For inspiration of that nature, I point you in the direction of Katie Webster's delicata squash salad with warm pickled onion dressing, which is indeed lettuce-free, and contains a hot and silky dressing seasoned with caraway and honey. It's one of five delicious salads we've shared that are heavy on winter produce, with nary a green leaf in sight.
(Image credits: Katie Webster; Kimberley Hasselbrink)