Three Salad Recipes that Pair Perfectly with Wine
Vegetable-loving chefs everywhere are embracing and updating the “entrée salad.” These aren’t grain bowls, pasta salads or dull standbys with a slab of protein slapped on top. These are wild, hearty, complex dishes that revel in their saladhood, often with the added bonus of being carb- or gluten-free.
With all that complexity, including notoriously wine-averse ingredients like beets and chiles, finding the right wine for a salad can be a daunting task. But not to worry: We’ve got three big, beautiful salad recipes and wine options on to match.
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Tips on pairing wine with salads
• To make your vinaigrettes more wine-friendly, tone down the tartness: Add a little mayonnaise, heavy cream or honey, or swap fresh orange or grapefruit juice for lemon and lime.
• Make sure the wine is more acidic than the dressing. Vinegar and citrus can make a lower-acid wine taste flat or sweet, but will bring out the fruit character of a higher-acid pour.
• Don’t count out red wine: Higher-acid reds with herbal and floral notes, like those made from Barbera, Sangiovese, Gamay and cool-climate Pinot Noir, go well with balsamic vinaigrettes as well as salads with meat, cheese, nuts and dried fruit.
Adapted from Ruffage by Abra Berens (Chronicle Books, 2019)
Abra Berens, a Michigan-based chef and farmer, offers more than 300 recipes for almost every vegetable under the sun in her new cookbook, Ruffage. If you can’t find young, just-picked shelling peas, frozen peas work perfectly and thaw in minutes. And if you’re not a chicken-roaster, just pick up a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket.
- 2 cups shelled small peas
- 1 small red onion, quartered and thin sliced
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced, plus more as needed
- ½ cup olive oil, plus more as needed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red chile flakes
- 2 cups torn roasted chicken meat
- ¼ cup mint leaves, rough chopped
- 1 cup parsley, rough chopped
- 1 head butter lettuce, torn into large pieces
Combine peas, onion, lemon zest and juice, oil, salt and chile flakes. Place in refrigerator to marinate, about 30 minutes.
In large serving dish, toss chicken, peas, mint, parsley and lettuce to combine. Season with more salt, lemon juice and olive oil, if needed. Serves 4.
Jurtschitsch 2018 Stein Grüner Veltliner (Kamptal). Grüner’s green notes can be reminiscent of peas and pea shoots, making it a natural match for any pea-based dish. Crisp flavors of citrus and pear also help bring out the peas’ natural sweetness.
Sola 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (Columbia Valley). Herbal, grassy Sauvignon Blanc is always salad friendly, and this one’s pronounced grapefruit notes go especially well with citrus-based dressings. Bright acidity and a long finish will balance the richness of the roasted chicken.
Courtesy Scarlett Lindeman, chef/co-owner, Cicatriz, Mexico City
At Cicatriz, this is called The Big Salad, an homage to the Seinfeld episode. Chef and Co-owner Scarlett Lindeman says the recipe is more of a guide to make use of what you have on hand, with hearty greens and creamy dressing as a base. In addition to the ingredients below, she may include wild rice, pickled onion and sprouted lentils. Feel free to use sliced hard-boiled eggs or warm poached ones instead of soft-boiled, too.
- 6 ounces kale, ribs removed, thin sliced
- 1 packed cup baby arugula or baby spinach
- ½ cup fresh basil, mint or cilantro leaves
- ½ small red onion, sliced paper-thin
- 3 small cooked beets, diced
- 2 avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds or pine nuts
- 4 soft-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
- Tahini-Yogurt Dressing (ingredients and recipe below)
In large bowl, combine kale, arugula, herbs and onion. Toss with just enough dressing to coat. Arrange beets, avocados and pepitas on top. When ready to serve, top with soft-boiled eggs. Serves 4.
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
Whisk all ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Makes about 1½ cups.
Castello Monaci 2019 Kreos Negroamaro Rosato (Salento); $14, 90 points. The beets here—along with the salad’s overall heft invite a deeper-hued wine. This rosato from southern Italy offers rich fruit against a slick citrus and stone backdrop, with enough weight and heft to stand up to the hearty salad.
Case Paolin NV Col Fondo (Asolo Prosecco Superiore); $29, 92 points. Bottle-fermented on its lees, this unfiltered frizzante is a delicious example of the col fondo style of Prosecco, which roughly translates to “with sediment.” The lees match with the nuttiness of the dressing, yet the wine’s brightness helps cut through the richness.
Courtesy Jennifer Carroll, chef/co-owner, Spice Finch, Philadelphia
At her Philadelphia restaurant, Spice Finch, Jennifer Carroll puts a contemporary American spin on Mediterranean cuisine. In this dish, quinoa is an ingenious (and gluten-free) alternative to the bulgur wheat traditionally used in tabbouleh. The tomato vinaigrette is great with any robust salad, as well as on grilled fish or chicken.
- 1 head broccoli (about 8 ounces)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 3 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 packed cup mixed fresh herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro and/or basil), chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon Aleppo or red pepper flakes
- Grated zest of one lemon
- Charred Tomato Vinaigrette (recipe and ingredients below)
- 1 pound fresh or jumbo lump crab meat
Peel broccoli stems with vegetable peeler. Grate broccoli on box grater, using big holes for florets and fine holes for stems. Transfer to large bowl and add quinoa, tomatoes, onion, pepper, herbs, spices and lemon zest. Season with salt, to taste. Add tomato vinaigrette, to taste, until salad is well coated but not soggy. Top with crab. Serves 4.
- 1 pound plum tomatoes
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
Place tomatoes and onion slices on cast-iron pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Cook, turning often, until soft and lightly charred, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to blender and add ginger. Cover and cool to room temperature. Add vinegar and ¼ cup water, and blend until smooth. With blender running, slowly add oil until dressing emulsifies. Add salt, to taste. Makes about 3½ cups.
Jamsheed 2017 Illaj Pinot Noir (Victoria).“This has characteristic Pinot Noir earthiness along with floral notes that complement the tomato vinaigrette very well,” says Carroll. “But it’s not a traditional Pinot Noir. It’s unfiltered and unfined, and it almost drinks like a cider, adding brightness to this summer dish.”
Wrath 2016 Ex Dolio Falanghina (Monterey). The sulfurous compounds found in broccoli can make pairing a wine extra tricky. However, the tea-like tannins from skin contact in this pour have a pleasing bitterness than can cancel out the bitterness in cruciferous vegetables. It also has tangy citrus flavors that go well with crab, along with aromas of nuts and wet stone.
- 1Marinated Peas with Roasted Chicken Salad
- 2Kale Salad with Tahini-Yogurt Dressing
- 3Quinoa Salad with Charred Tomato Vinaigrette and Crab