Winter salads can’t rely on ripe tomatoes and delicate butter lettuce to make them shine. Instead hearty greens, salty cheese, dried fruit, and crunchy nuts are the flavorful ingredients that make winter salads delicious. Use the ideas below as a springboard to create your own winter salads.
Avoid the wilted lettuce mixes flown in from faraway places. Instead, select hearty greens, crunchy chicories, or crisp cabbage that flourish in winter. Many greens you may be used to cooking, chard and kale in particular, are perfectly good for salads.
Hearty greens and chicories can handle a lot of flavor, Feta, goat, and blue cheeses are all great matches for winter salads—just crumble them on top. Olives—either whole pitted, or pitted and chopped—are also good additions.
Hearty greens and chicories have a lot of body and texture of their own, so feel free to add crunch to the dish. Nuts, croutons, slices of radish, pieces of fennel, slim coins of carrots—anything that will work your teeth and jaws just a little bit.
The slightly bitter taste of winter greens and chicories can be altered with a little bit of sweetness. Roasted beets are good to use, as are winter fruits like pears, oranges, kumquats or dates. Dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, or blueberries add texture and sweetness.
Like a Caprese Salad or Marinated Green Beans, summer salads don’t always involve leaves. Good winter salads don’t have to involve greens. Roasted beet salads, celery and red onion salads or lemony lentil salads are all examples of leafless salads.
Lunch or First Courses
Winter Citrus Salad with Honey Dressing
- 2 tangerines
- 1 pink grapefruit
- 1 navel orange
- 1/2 small red onion or 1 shallot, chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- Lime or lemon juice to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly chopped tarragon or a pinch dried.
Peel citrus, removing as much pith as possible, and cut into segments. Remove any pits, layer fruit on a serving dish, sprinkle with salt and garnish with chopped onion.
Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice and tarragon until well combined; taste, adjust seasoning as needed and drizzle over salad.
Yield: 4 servings.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 large Red Delicious apples, diced
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
- 2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (if not available substitute another vegetable)
- Lettuce (whatever is in season)
Combine oil and next 6 ingredients in a jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously.
Combine apple and next 3 ingredients; toss with dressing. Serve on individual lettuce-lined serving plates.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Roasted Beet Salad
- 1 1/2 pounds beets (gold beets are attractive if you can find them), stems removed and washed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Serrano chile, seeded and thinly chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- pinch of sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle the beets with salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil, leaving a little hole in the top facing up, and set in a roasting pan. Cook until easily pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes or until very tender.
Meanwhile, mix together the rest of the olive oil, red onion, Serrano, ginger, sugar, and red wine vinegar.
When beets are done and cool enough to handle, peel and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.
Mix with the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley.
Dinner Salads or Second Courses
Potato Chicken Salad
- 1 pound small uncooked red potatoes
- 2 pounds uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 pound green beans
- 2 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 4 oz seedless grapes, halved (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; add salt and potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from water with a slotted spoon or strainer; set potatoes aside but maintain water’s boil. Add green beans to boiling water and blanch until crisp-tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; drain in a colander.
Meanwhile, coat broiler rack with cooking spray; preheat broiler. Broil chicken five inches from heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 minutes; set aside. ( You can also use a stove top grill pan.
When chicken has cooled, slice into bite-size chunks; place in a large serving bowl. Slice potatoes into 1-inch chunks and cut green beans into 1-inch pieces; gently toss with chicken. Add celery and grapes.
To make dressing:
In a small bowl whisk lemon juice, broth and mustard; then, whisk in tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Drizzle in oil in a slow stream, whisking all the while, until dressing turns creamy, about 1 minute. Toss salad with dressing, taking care not to break up potatoes. If desired, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.
Tuscan-Styled Tuna Salad
- 12 oz. Italian tuna in olive oil, drained and oil reserved
- 15-oz can small white beans, (cannellini or great northern, rinsed)
- 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced
- 2 tablespoons reserved tuna oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Chopped parsley for garnish
Combine tuna, beans, tomatoes, scallions, tuna oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir gently. Refrigerate before serving. Garnish with parsley.
What’s in the Refrigerator Pasta Salad
- 1 pound Rotini or Penne pasta
- 4 cups mix-ins (see below)
- Dressing: Herbed Vinaigrette (recipe follows) or
- Homemade Buttermilk Dressing (recipe follows)
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Add desired mix-ins and half of dressing. Toss to coat. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours; toss again before serving. Add additional dressing, as desired.
Makes 8 servings.
Crisp-tender cooked vegetables: green beans, broccoli, asparagus, sugar snap peas, green peas, edamame, zucchini, yellow squash
Raw vegetables: shredded or sliced carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, celery, avocado, spinach, radish, onions
Other: olives, cheese – shredded, crumbled or cubed, herbs
Meats: Salami strips, cooked chicken, cooked tuna and shrimp, crab, cooked salmon, grilled ham, leftover beef steak slices, prosciutto
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley
In small bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil. Whisk in mustard and garlic. Add herbs.
Makes 3/4 cup.
Homemade Buttermilk Dressing
- 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon no-salt garlic and herb seasoning blend (Mrs. Dash)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Coarse-ground black pepper
In small bowl, stir together buttermilk and mayonnaise. Add remaining ingredients; stir to mix well. Add additional buttermilk if needed for consistency. Let stand about 10 minutes to thicken or chill until needed.
Makes 1 cup.
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