This time of year, I love the idea of offering something quick and indulgent to fix for yourself right when you get home from a holiday cocktail party. I only shared such a recipe one other time, and that was three years ago, but this particular scenario for cooking looms large in my mind. It comes in handy all year long.
You know how it is. You go to a party after work, have a drink or two ( . . . or three or four . . . ) while snacking on finger food that does more to stimulate hunger than satisfy it. You get home and you need sustenance. Of course, you should eat a pile of raw kale and a bowl lentils, but it’s the holidays, and you’ve got a buzz going. And really, step back and assess this situation: It would have been so much easier to just pick up a slice of pizza or some takeout, but no, you are cooking for yourself! Congratulations! You can eat whatever you want for dinner.
My “Salad Treat” from a few months ago is one of my favorite things I’ve been eating this year—I’ve made it dozens of times since that June post—but it’s got one of the least encouraging photos I’ve ever put up (though there’s some competition for the ugliest photo title). I’m hoping you’ll give this salad another chance and accept the re-do. I’m doing my best to make a stronger case, with more enticing photos.
It’s easy and unusual. I’m not even changing anything about the recipe because it’s perfect as is, and I won’t even suggest any variations.You toss together some spinach, chopped up kimchi, torn-up toasted bread, and grated sharp cheddar cheese with a few teaspoons of kimchi brine. Then you fry an egg in olive oil, and dump its entire contents—the egg and the hot oil—over the salad, which softens the greens a bit and gives the salad some warmth.
It doesn’t seem like it should make sense that it tastes this good—rich, spicy, salty, tangy, and substantial—but it really does. It’s one of those “wilted spinach salads” of the eighties, but with some good funkiness going on. I hope you’ll try it! And happy holidays!
Wilted Spinach Salad with Kimchi, Sharp Cheddar, and Fried Egg
2 to 3 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup grated good, sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup drained, chopped cabbage or bok choy kimchi
1 thin slice toasted good quality bread, torn into bite sized pieces
2 teaspoons kimchi brine*
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Combine the spinach, cheddar, kimchi, and toasted bread in a heat-safe mixing bowl. Add the kimchi brine and toss to combine.
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the egg. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Fry until set on top, crisp around the edges, and the yolk is set to your liking.
Add the egg to the salad, then carefully pour the hot oil over the salad. Toss with tongs, breaking up the egg, until well combined and the greens are slightly wilted.
* Kimchi generates liquid (brine) as it ferments–it pools in the bottom of the jar. You can either hold the kimchi in place with your hand while you pour it out, or give the kimchi a squeeze over a bowl to extract it.