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Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

 

The Warm Salads of Spring

Hot dressings cozy up to cold greens, proving that opposites do attract

by Kate Heyhoe

 

Salad
Who can resist the experience of hot fudge on cold ice cream? This vivid combination awakens the senses by its surprising contrast of tastes and textures. Simply put, flavors change when tasted at different temperatures. From crisp spinach to frizzy frisee, salad greens profit by the same principle of hot and cold contrast, adding exciting dimensions to a meal.

Tips for Warm 'n' Cool Salads

The classic wilted spinach and bacon salad may be the most famous example of fresh greens drizzled with a hot vinaigrette, and it's a great model to use when experimenting with hot-and-cold combinations. Here are a few tips to consider when warming up your own spring salads:

* Avoid heating creamy dressings. They can change consistency when heated, and they can be too heavy and dense for the greens.

* Heat the vinaigrette just before serving. Serve the salad as soon as it's dressed, or better yet, dress the salad at table.

* Don't toss the salad—just let the dressing mingle to retain both fresh and wilted greens.

* Go nuts. Warm, toasted nuts add crunch, intense flavor and marry well with warm oils, especially lightly heated nut oils. Avoid prolonged heating of nut oils, as they'll lose their intensity.

* Hot, grilled vegetables and sliced grilled or smoked meats add wonderful dimensions to crispy greens. Ditto for grilled salmon, tuna and shrimp. Crisp fried duck is divine on mixed Asian greens with a warm sesame or orange-ginger vinaigrette.

* Pan-fry shrimp in oil with garlic, chiles and seasonings, then toss in some lemon juice or vinegar. Pour the hot mixture over the greens of your choice.

* Use whatever greens are freshest. My favorites for warm salads are arugula, spinach, cabbage (red and green), escarole, frisee, mizuna, and watercress. You can also serve radicchio and Belgian endive either cold and raw or hot and grilled.

Be inventive with your salads. Try a hot Asian-style sesame dressing on napa cabbage shreds and cold noodles. A favorite of mine is sautéed wild mushrooms warmed with cognac and wine vinegar, spooned over spinach or dark greens. For other ideas, check out the assortment of warm 'n' cold salads listed below.

Warm 'n' Cold Salad Recipes

 

Kate's Global Kitchen for April 2002:
04/05/02     On the Menu: Mini-Meat Meals
04/12/02     A Baker's Dozen in Every Town
04/19/02     The Warm Salads of Spring
04/26/02     A Portobello Passage

 

Copyright © 2002, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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