Warm Mushroom Salad with Italian Dressing

Planting cold kisses everywhere, "I am here, I am here," calls out the winter air

— Subhashini (@NeelaVanam) November 5, 2014

I read this tweet from my poet friend, Subhashini, this morning, and realised, winter is indeed tiptoeing into Bangalore. Even now, as I type this, I am craving for the comfort of a warm shawl around my shoulders and socks to cover my toes. While I would happily eat salads any night of the week. But when winter sets in, it salads don't quite feel like comfort food

Even Ayurveda says that the digestive enzymes are at a low ebb in winters, and it may not be the best idea to eat raw foods, as it gets tougher to digest and assimilate the nutrients in the body. And that's why, A WARM SALAD. It's also the perfect solution, when you want to eat a salad and you have no lettuce or other salad greens on hand. Go with any native Indian greens and they will flavour the salad with their quirky taste

Here's my winter salad idea to warm up your cold evenings. This one, I've made with the stuff I had in my fridge and some greens from the garden. It's just an outline and the possibilities are plenty. Roasted pumpkin, sweet potato, cooked beans / lentils can all happily lend to the heartiness of this salad and the lemony Italian dressing gives it a freshness, that makes you want to lick the spoon. If you are someone who think healthy eating is boring, especially salads, this one is sure to change your perception

If you would like to learn from me on making delicious and interesting salads, there's a ZESTY SALADS workshop scheduled for 15th Nov. You can check the details here

Check my video below to learn how to make a quick Italian dressing at home. It's so easy that you'll never buy a bottle of dressing again!

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Warm Salad with Italian Dressing

Serves 1

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

6-8 button mushrooms, halved

1/2 small onion, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces

handful of tender spinach leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 tsp of mixed dried herbs

handful of frozen green peas

handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

3 dried apricots, sliced

1-2 tbsp of Italian dressing (video link)

6-7 almonds, toasted and sliced


In a pan, lightly warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, and allow it to brown a little. This will give a lovely flavour to the salad

Add the mushrooms, onion, red bell pepper and let them saute on low heat for 5 minutes

Next, add the frozen peas, spinach and saute until the spinach wilts, the green peas are thawed and somewhat cooked. Add the mixed herbs and toss

Add the dried apricot bits, tomatoes, give it one toss and remove from flame

Place this salad in a large bowl. Top with dressing and toss gently until coated well. Sprinkle a pinch of salt at this stage. Garnish with sliced almonds

To toast almonds, place whole almonds in the glass tray of the microwave and microwave on high for 90 seconds - 2 minutes, until they emit a nice toasted aroma. Cool for few minutes and then roughly chop or slice


Place this inside a hunk of crusty bread, a couple of slices of cheese and you have a delicious hearty sandwich ready

I also crumble some paneer into the pan when the spinach is wilting. A vegetarian is always eager for some extra protein!

(c) Nandita Iyer 2006-2015

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