Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wilted spinach salad with tomato coulis

Last fall Amanda and I ate at a crepe restaurant where the star of the dish was something called "tomato coulis," which we'd never had before. I looked for it in stores, but couldn't find any pre-made, and when I looked up recipes online there were a vast array of options people were calling "coulis," from versions akin to chunky soup to versions resembling a smooth ketchup. Ours was more like a coarse pesto, which I couldn't find a duplicate for.

So after a great deal of experimentation, combining this and that technique, I have perfected my favorite version of coulis, which works equally well as a salad topping (presented here), a salsa (with chips), a sandwich spread (on patty melts), and a pasta sauce (over cheese tortellini). It's a garlicky, sweet, salty and tangy intense flavor that's great to have on hand to liven up a dish.

Salad ingredients (serves 4):
9 oz spinach
a few drizzles olive oil
4 oz feta cheese
1 avocado
1 cup (or more) tomato coulis

Coulis ingredients (makes 2 cups, so store the leftovers in a jar in the fridge):
3 oz package sun-dried tomato halves, dry packed
about 24 medium-sized leaves basil (leaves from a 1.5 oz bunch)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup canned diced tomato, salted (otherwise add 1/2 tsp salt)
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1) Layer the ingredients in a food processor, then pulse until the sun-dried tomatoes are chopped well, and the mixture is about the consistency of pesto. (These pictures are of a quarter batch, when I was testing; you'll have much more than this in your bowl.)

2) Let sit in refrigerator for two hours to let the flavors absorb. (Note that my recipe is rather garlicky and spicy. If you prefer a milder flavor, use 1 garlic clove and 1/4 tsp crushed pepper.)

3) To make the salad, separate spinach into two stainless steel pans (or you could use two shallow baking sheets, or whatever you have on hand), drizzle with a little olive oil and toss. Add feta, and broil in the oven for 8-10 minutes or so until spinach wilts and feta is warmed.

4) Plate the spinach/feta mixture, top with 1/4 avocado each, and add a generous amount of coulis. (If serving as a main course, you can add protein by cooking four hamburgers, slicing each one into strips, and plating one underneath each salad.) Serve and enjoy!


  1. OK, I'm gonna' have to try this. I haven't cooked "outside the (standard recipe) box" since September last year. Time to start again! Thanks for blogging....

  2. Glad to hear you feel inspired! This whole thing started because we're trying to eat fewer processed foods and more from scratch, and I have to give myself some motivation to keep clawing away at it.

    I made up a huge batch of coulis and have been using it in different dishes, and one I really like is a spicy version of tuna salad but using tilapia, a little mayo, and coulis. It acts just like a tuna salad would (you can do sandwiches, or casseroles, or eat it in lettuce leaves) but is much more interesting. (That recipe will be coming in May or something because I already have so many scheduled out in advance!)

    Let me know how it turned out if you got a chance to make it. I'm never quite sure how well I'm explaining things to someone who's trying it for the first time.