Cooked Salads: Three Hot Ways to Make Healthy Meals

Lentine Alexis
by Lentine Alexis
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Cooked Salads: Three Hot Ways to Make Healthy Meals

Salads transcend the seasons. This fresh-forward, easy-to-make midday or weeknight meal is a game-changer when the weather is so hot you can’t even look at the oven without breaking a sweat. As things cool down, salads can be equally crave-worthy — but in a different way. When fall descends, our bodies start to crave foods that are easier to digest and more soothing to our systems struggling to keep warm and stay active at the same time. Think: roasted, grilled or sautéed.

Here are a few ways to heat up your salads, make them fall-friendly — and still healthy:

GRILL THEM

A grill is a great tool for cooking up a savory salad. Sturdy greens like romaine lettuce, bok choy, radicchio and cabbage are best for grilling. Simply brush with olive oil and let them char, then serve with a simple dressing.

Grilled Romaine With Creamy Avocado Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts or large heads of Treviso radicchio, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup (75g) mizuna or baby mustard greens
  • 1/2 cup (120g) crème fraîche
  • 1 avocado, cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Directions

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Brush cut sides of lettuce with 2 tablespoons oil; season with kosher salt and pepper. Grill lettuce, cut side down, until lightly charred, about 2 minutes.

Toss mizuna with remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt.

Dollop crème fraîche on a platter and top with grilled lettuce and avocado; scatter mizuna over the top. Drizzle entire salad with lemon juice and more oil; season with sea salt and pepper.

Serves: 4

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 258; Total Fat: 25g; Saturated Fat: 9g; Monounsaturated Fat: 13g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 12mg; Carbohydrate: 8g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 3g

ROAST THEM

The oven is a healthy salad’s best friend! Broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower and carrots — all are great veggies to roast and toss together in a salad. This Asian-inspired broccoli-based dish is a favorite, and it’s a great place to use leftover chicken for a quick weeknight dinner. Because the stems take longer to cook than the florets, cooking them separately ensures they all get prepared to perfection.

Roasted Broccoli With Peanuts + Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccoli, ends trimmed and stems peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (30g) unsalted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, plus more to taste
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • 8 ounces roasted or rotisserie chicken

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C). Slice broccoli stems on a diagonal to about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, toss with oil, and season with kosher salt and pepper. Gather up loose pieces of left-behind florets and finely chop. Roast stems until browned around edges, 15–20 minutes. Add vinegar and toss to coat.

Meanwhile, heat a dry medium-sized skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Add florets. Season with kosher salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until bright green and lightly charred in spots, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add peanuts and sugar. Cook, stirring until nuts are golden brown. Add roasted chicken, stir in 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast; season to taste again.

Combine cooked broccoli stems with floret and chicken mixture. Serve topped with scallions, sea salt and more yeast, if desired.

Serves: 4 

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 391; Total Fat: 20g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 12g; Cholesterol: 53mg; Sodium: 272mg; Carbohydrate: 17g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 22g

SAUTE THEM

Sautéing your salad is the shortest distance between you and a healthy meal. Greens love to be wilted and it builds their flavor, makes them more enjoyable to weave into salads, stews or anywhere else you may want a little veggie punch. This salad stands alone as a riff on the “Caesar,” and you could add any other roasted or sauteéd veggies you have on hand. Quickly blanching the kale before sauteéing helps it keep its color and speeds the wilting process.

Sauteed Kale “Caesar” Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (536g) packed kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup (115g) onion, chopped
  • 1/4–1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup (25g) finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Generous pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup (32g) toasted pepitas
  • 1/2 gala apple, sliced into thin batons
  • Optional add ins: roasted chicken, steamed or roasted fish, roasted carrots

Directions

Cook kale in large pot of boiling, salted water until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander; drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika and crushed red pepper; sprinkle with salt. Add kale, then sauté until heated through, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more smoked paprika, if desired. Transfer to serving bowl; drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, toss with Parmesan, pepitas, apples and any additional proteins or vegetables you choose then serve.

Serves: 4 

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 212; Total Fat: 14g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 5mg; Sodium: 191mg; Carbohydrate: 5g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 10g

About the Author

Lentine Alexis
Lentine Alexis
Lentine is a curious, classically trained chef and former pro athlete. She uses her bicycle, raw life and travel experiences and organic ingredients to inspire athletes and everyone to explore, connect and expand their human experiences through food. She previously worked as a Chef/Recipe Developer/Content Creator and Culinary Director at Skratch Labs – a sports nutrition company dedicated to making real food alternatives to modern “energy foods.” Today, she writes, cooks, speaks and shares ideas for nourishing sport and life with whole, simple, delicious foods.

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