Wilted Spinach Salad

  • By Cate Whittington
  • /
  • April 2016-Vol.2 No.4
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wilted spinach

My mother and I shared a love of all things food. Many of the cookbooks that line my shelves were gifts from her. One of my favorites is The Greens Cook Book, subtitled Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant.

That celebrated restaurant, offering a spectacular panorama of the Golden Gate Bridge, is Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. Deborah Madison, author of my treasured copy, was the restaurant’s original chef when it opened its doors in the late seventies.

I scarcely cracked her book’s spine the first few years that I owned it, thinking its sophisticated recipes too complicated for the mother of young children. But as my interest in feeding my family “more of the right stuff” grew, the pages of The Greens Cookbook became increasingly dog-eared, food-splattered with notes scribbled in the margins.

I want to share a simplified recipe that proved just the right balance between cooked and raw spinach for my toddlers. Visiting the restaurant last summer with these same grown men, they were delighted to discover Wilted Spinach Salad still on the menu!


Wilted Spinach Salad

Modified from The Greens Cookbook

1 small onion

8-12 Kalamata olives

1-pound bunch spinach

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon mint leaves, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil



  1. Soak the onion slices in ice water for 10-15 minutes to take the bite out of them.
  2. Pit the olives and tear them apart.
  3. Wash and dry the spinach, removing stems if desired.
  4. Toss the spinach in a large metal bowl with the onion, olives, garlic, mint, vinegar and feta cheese.
  5. Heat the olive oil until hot, but not smoking, and immediately pour it over the salad. Use metal tongs to coat and wilt the spinach with the hot oil.
  6. Add additional vinegar, as needed, and serve with toasted croutons.


Other greens that respond well to this method are curly endive, escarole, or thinly sliced cabbage.

Resource: The Greens Cookbook (Deborah Madison, 1987)


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