I still crave fresh, crunchy salads in the dead of winter. What about you? But living in a cold climate, the light, airy, and cooling feeling I get from eating a salad does not usually satisfy me this time of the year. So when it's freezing outside and there's a fresh layer of snow on the ground, this warm salad is my answer. Roasted pears and shallots are pulled from the oven and immediately tossed with greens to wilt them ever so slightly. And extra roasted shallot is the secret ingredient to making a warm, rich and creamy vinaigrette that ties everything together. Once assembled, this salad does not wait around. Enjoy while it is warm!
The Warming Nature of Food
If you've been following for a while or have read my Philosophy page, you know that I like to pay attention to the warming and cooling qualities of food and adapt my use of them according to seasons. But what exactly does it mean for a food to be warm or cold?
According to Ayurvedic medicine, eating food warm or at room temperature strengthens our prana or life force, thereby helping to regulate our body temperature and enhancing our ability to digest food. However, the warming quality of food is not only the result of its physical temperature. Food also has a thermal nature or internal energy than can provide enduring warmth by pushing our energy and blood up and out to the surface of the body. According to some of the more widely accepted theories, warming properties of food depend not only on the type of food but also on the part of the plant or animal used, the cooking method, and where and how a food was raised/harvested.
Tips for increasing intake of warming foods in the winter:
- Limit consumption of raw foods and cold salads, smoothies and beverages. At the least enjoy smoothies at room temperature and avoid using ice or other frozen products.
- Balance intake of fermented and sprouted foods (cooling) with foods cooked low and slow (warming)
- Balance intake of greens and other vegetables with a high water content such as cucumber, radish, lettuce (cooling) with roots and other vegetables that take longer to grow such as carrot, sweet potato, parsnip, cabbage, and beet (warming).
- Add warming spices to meals and warm beverages: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, fennel, cumin, turmeric
- Balance cleansing teas (dandelion and chamomile) with warming teas (ginger, fenugreek, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, spearmint)
- Overall, pay attention to the food being grown in your region. Anytime of the year, we can trust that the food available to us locally has the proper balance of warming and cooling properties for our body to thrive in our environment.
For more tips on the art of salad making, see this post!
A Warm Winter Salad
Notes: Prepare this salad last minute so it can be enjoyed while still warm.
- 1/3 cup (40 gr) pecans
- 3 large shallots, divided
- 2 firm, but ripe pears, chopped
- 1/2 avocado, chopped
- Couple large handfuls tender spinach (or mache, arugula)
- Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F). While oven is preheating, place pecans in oven to toast, 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, remove skin from shallots. Quarter 1 shallot, place on a sheet of aluminum foil, and lightly drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Wrap tightly and place in oven once pecans have been removed. Roast for 20 minutes.
- Thinly slice remaining 2 shallots and cut pears in bite size pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. With 10 minutes remaining, place in oven along with the shallot in foil.
- Immediately toss warm, roasted pears and sliced shallots with spinach and toasted pecans in a large mixing bowl.
- Carefully unwrap shallot from foil and blend with remaining vinaigrette ingredients below. Pour vinaigrette over salad, toss, then gently fold in avocado, and serve immediately!
Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
Notes: If you don't use all the dressing, store in the fridge for up to 2 days to use in another salad.
- 1 large shallot, roasted in foil
- 3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar*
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 tsp salt + freshly ground black pepper
- Add all ingredients to a mini food processor or the tall mixing cup attachment that comes with the immersion blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
*If you don't have white balsamic vinegar, you can substitute with 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar + 1 Tbsp. regular balsamic vinegar