Thursday, January 22, 2009

Salad Daze: Part I

* thank you Jon for the inspiration, and Wikipedia for the explanation*
Optimistic New Year's resolutions (the vast majority of which I have to assume involve a renewed commitment to working out and eating well) abound through January.

This year, I had two -- body and blog -- and plans to get both up and running.

I figured the tougher of the two would be the latter -- figuring out how to publish posts, and contributing frequently -- but surprisingly enough, the biggest challenge I'm facing is sticking to a gym regimen. Once I'm there, I love an intense cardio workout. But staying inspired when roused by a 4:55 a.m. alarm is a toughie. (And in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm averaging between three and five gym visits a week right now. More three-day weeks than five, but I'm hoping blogging about this will inspire me to change my early-morning habits!)

Thinking of my gorgeous, soon-to-arrive (in February!) wedding gown helps, but also delivers a fair share of guilt after lazier mornings. To make amends for non-gym-going days, I try to strike a balance, and eat consistently healthy meals. And so, I'm setting out to mix up tasty, healthy versions of the traditional diet default: the salad. The menu will (hopefully) change weekly, so be sure to check back regularly to see the latest offering!

Chris and I cut this recipe in half, and it yielded a healthy side portion for each of us. I was craving warm, comforting food, and doubted the recipe's directions to toss the spinach with the warm dressing would warm it enough. Instead, we combined the nearly-caramelized onions with the spinach in a skillet over the heat for a few minutes. (Unfortunately, the thin-bottomed skillet was much hotter than I anticipated, and the spinach wilted a bit more than I had intended. It was still delicious, though.)

Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Feta Dressing


1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach leaves
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar (we substituted balsamic vinegar, because we love the stuff)


Place spinach in large bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add onion; sauté until brown and softened, about 7 minutes. (Why, why, why do recipes always lie about the amount of time it takes to caramelize onions? Go longer, people, until they're brown and shriveled and wonderful!)

Transfer spinach to skillet over low heat, and allow to wilt slightly, before removing quickly from the heat. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil and cheese to skillet. Stir to melt cheese slightly, about 1 minute. Stir in vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over spinach; toss to coat, and serve.

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