Warm Spinach and Arugula Salad—A salad for an icy day!

Warm Spinach and Arugula Salad—A salad for an icy day!

It’s the new year, and everyone’s trying to eat healthier. Okay, maybe not everyone, but many people are putting more thought into the food they put into their bodies. When I think of the healthiest meal possible, I think salad. Colorful, healthy salad full of many different flavors and textures.

Problem is, I live in Chicago. The last thing I want on a crisp and bitter day is a crisp and bitter meal. I want warm, cozy, soothing food—food that will comfort me and help me endure the dropping temperature. It’s 0˚ out as I write this. That’s zero. Nothing. if you’ve never experienced 0˚, let’s just say that it doesn’t feel like nothing. It feels like you’re being attacked every time you step outside. Pummeled by the wind, assaulted by the ice, taunted by the sun, shining icily from above.

This is what it’s like living in the Midwest in the winter. Elsewhere in the country, people can “eat local” year round, or at least more of the year. Around here, the only fresh “local” item you’re going to get in winter is the ice in your drink. And you wouldn’t want to drink it.

I’m often jealous of those people in California, living the sunny life, whipping up a quick healthy salad for lunch, all organic and crunchy, in between their beach yoga and their trek up a mountain. At this time of year, I’m calculating angles through parking lots so I can minimize my time outside. When the air hurts, you know it’s winter.

I went out to lunch with a friend recently. I shivered into my seat and perused the menu. I glanced at the salads. I love a good cobb salad (okay, not the healthiest salad example, but true nonetheless). But when it feels like Jack Frost is doing ice art down my spine, the last thing I want to do is crunch into an icy salad. So I ordered a giant omelet with hash browns. There were worse items on the menu—I avoided the burgers, fries and creamy soups—but it wasn’t exactly healthy.

I wanted to address that issue, so when I got home I was determined to make a delicious salad for dinner. A warm salad. This won’t work with iceburg lettuce—remember, the point here is to be healthy. You definitely need a good dark green for this one. Spinach and arugula are perfect. I chopped up other salad ingredients—green onion, red pepper, tomato, and avocado. I like to add something crunchy and salty (like a nut), and something sweet (like fruit). This time, I added pumpkin seeds and sliced apple. After everything’s chopped and ready to go, heat up a dribble of oil in a pan and toss the greens around quickly—just stir them a few times until they’re slightly wilted. Mix them with the other ingredients, and you’ve got a healthy, filling, nutritious, warm salad. It didn’t even need any dressing at all, but you could add a spritz of lemon or a dash of vinegar if you must.

It won’t raise the temperature outside, or make sunny beaches appear out your window, but it’s a salad you can eat on an icy day. It might even put a smile on your face. If it’s winter, that means that spring is just around the corner.

Warm Spinach and Arugula Salad

2          Cups baby spinach leaves

2          Cups arugula leaves

½        tsp. olive oil


1          Scallion, sliced thin

½        Cup tomato, sliced

½        Red pepper, chopped and grilled lightly or heated in microwave for 30 seconds

½        Avocado, sliced

½        Apple, in small slices


¼         Cup pumpkin seeds


Heat olive oil in skillet. Add greens, toss quickly to lightly wilt—just a few times around the pan. Transfer to large bowl. Top with scallions, tomato, red pepper, avocado, apple and salt and pepper. Place on plates. Top with nuts.


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Filed under: Lunch, Side Dish

Tags: healthy, Salad, Vegetarian

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