There’s nothing better than a hot meal on a cold day. When you think of warm dishes, salad probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But a warm salad can be a comforting and filling addition to any meal.
A healthy warm spinach salad recipe comes together in a flash, makes a great side dish that adds color and flavor, and is just the right temp when it’s cold outside. The key is to combine a warm mix of veggies with the raw crunch of baby spinach, which heats up just enough to wilt. Salads are nutritional superheroes, loaded with fiber and nutrients, and a warm spinach salad is an easy and delicious dish to add to your list of go-to meals.
Here are three warm salad recipes to get you started, but feel free to experiment. The warm part of the salad should include cooked veggies, like eggplant, carrots, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. Sauté, steam, roast or grill them to perfection. Mix with raw greens: You can substitute chopped kale, thinly sliced collard greens or arugula for the spinach, if you prefer.
Toss with your favorite salad dressing (such as Jenny Craig’s Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing), fresh citrus juice or hot sauce. You may not need much if your veggies produce enough liquid when they are cooked. Try adding fresh herbs for a little extra zing.
With only a few ingredients, these warm salad ideas will add impressive variety to mealtime. Each recipe features Fresh & Free Additions and makes at least two servings — try one for dinner tonight and bring the rest for lunch tomorrow. Veggie side dishes have never been so easy and tasty!
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Warm Mushroom and Spinach Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Mushrooms are packed with vitamins and minerals and may help boost your immune system.1 Shallots add a sweet and savory flavor without the sharpness of onions or the pungency of garlic (but feel free to substitute shallots with either of these). A little parsley, mustard and vinegar brings it together quickly and simply.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, sliced
- 1 8 oz. package of mushrooms (your choice), chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 4 cups baby spinach
- Red wine vinegar, to taste
Cooking instructions: Warm oil in a medium skillet or wok over medium heat, then add the shallots while you chop the mushrooms. The shallots will be browning when you add the mushrooms. Stir frequently until the mushrooms are cooked to your liking. Season with salt and pepper. Depending on the type of mushrooms you use, they may release liquid that will be part of the dressing. Shut off the heat and mix in the mustard. Stir until thoroughly mixed, and top with parsley. Toss with spinach and serve. Add a splash of vinegar as you toss the salad.
Pro tip: If you like a little extra crunch or are making these salads ahead of time, toss half of the cooked veggies with 2 cups of spinach. Reserve the rest to reheat later and toss with the remaining 2 cups of spinach.
Photo by Junghee Choi on iStock
Warm Green Bean and Tomato Salad
This salad brings together two vegetables we always have on hand. Crunchy green beans and juicy tomatoes make a deliciously savory combination. Green beans are good sources of iron, vitamin C and fiber.2 Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant.3 (Here’s everything you need to know about antioxidants.) Combined with basil, balsamic vinegar and spinach, these reliable staples really come to life.
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ cups green beans, chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 4 cups baby spinach
Cooking instructions: Add the oil to a medium skillet over medium-high heat, then add the green beans and tomatoes, cooking until the tomatoes blister. Press the tomatoes until they split; the juice will be the base of the dressing. Stir to coat the beans. Season with salt and pepper. Shut off the heat, stir in the vinegar and sprinkle with basil. Toss with spinach and serve.
Photo by dsnyder427 on iStock
Warm Blueberry and Snap Pea Salad with Lemon and Bok Choy
Besides being delicious, blueberries are the original superfood and king of antioxidants, while snap peas are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene4 to support your immune system. Add the zesty freshness of lemon juice and the crunch of bok choy and you’ve got a unique and healthy dish that’s ready in minutes.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 ½ cups snap peas
- 1 small bok choy, chopped
- ½ cup blueberries
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
- 4 cups baby spinach
Cooking instructions: Add the oil to a wok or skillet over medium-high heat, then add the snap peas and bok choy, cooking until they are bright green. Add the blueberries and cook until softened. Stir to coat the veggies with the juice from the blueberries. Shut off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and top with cilantro. Toss with spinach and serve.
Which warm salad recipe is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Nicki is a journalist with expertise in healthy eating and exercise. She is the former editor-in-chief of Competitor Running and managing editor of Women's Running magazines and writes articles and crafts recipes for a variety of websites and publications. She also loves cycling, making music and is wild about cats, dogs and other animals.
Favorite healthy snack: anything with nut butter!
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
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