Let’s talk about wilted salads. Do you like them or hate them? Does it depend on the leafy green you use? I love wilted salads–just barely cooking the greens with a quick stint in a hot pan or with a warm vinaigrette, or in this case, both.
I made my foray into cooking with leafy greens using chard. I knew I needed to start eating them and from the recommendation of others I knew chard would be a pretty safe bet. As it turns out, I really love chard. I’ve grown some in my garden the last few years, but it hasn’t been nearly as lovely as what I’ve been receiving in my CSA. I just love it!
So let’s get back to this wilted chard salad. The idea of all of the components has been swirling around in my brain for a while now. I picked up some pretty yellow and red cherry tomatoes from Trader Joe’s. They turned out to be quite sweet and juicy. They’ll get me by until tomato season, I think. I loved the idea of making a warm cherry tomato vinaigrette to go on top of the wilted chard. I also had some organic polenta and pine nuts in my fridge from Frieda’s. They sent me a few of their favorite pantry items to try. I’ve never used the pre-made polenta before. I usually just make my own, but I will definitely be stocking up on more polenta because it was so handy and they fried up nice and crispy in a little olive oil.
This salad was incredible! My husband and I really enjoyed it. The leftovers are better heated up the next day.
- For Wilted Chard:
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 8 to 10 oz. fresh baby chard (or about 6 large leaves, stems removed and torn into pieces)
- For Polenta Croutons:
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tube prepared polenta, cut into 12 rounds about ½" thick each
- For Warm Cherry Tomato Vinagrette:
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 4 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. agave (can use honey)
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups assorted cherry tomatoes, halved (I used yellow and red)
- a few sprigs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- For garnish:
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- leaves of fresh thyme from 2-3 sprigs
- For Wilted Chard: In a large, 12" skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Stir occasionally, adding a little water, if needed, to prevent burning until onions are softened and golden. Add the chard a little at a time, constantly turning with tongs until all of the chard is wilted. (You may have to do this in batches.) Transfer to a bowl, set aside and keep warm. Do not rinse pan as it will be used for the vinaigrette.
- For Polenta Croutons: While onion is cooking, heat the 2 tsp. olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the polenta rounds and let brown on each side for about 5 minutes each. (This might need to be done in two batches. Also, be careful of splattering oil. Use a mesh splatter screen.) Remove from pan and place on a plate. Keep warm until ready to assemble salad.
- For Warm Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette: After the chard has been transferred to a bowl, add the garlic, white balsamic vinegar, agave and mustard to the pan. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any brown bits of onion in the pan. Let cook on low heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the olive oil and whisk to combine. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, thyme sprigs, and another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. (If the tomatoes are really acidic, you can add more agave. If it's too sweet, add a little more vinegar.)
- To serve: Transfer the chard to a large serving platter. Arrange the polenta rounds on top, followed by the warm cherry tomato vinaigrette. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and thymes leaves over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Disclosure: Frieda’s provided me with polenta and pine nuts for this recipe. Opinions expressed are my own.