When you think of wintery foods, warm and cozy things like soups and stews likely come to mind. But salads, my friends, can also be a staple winter meal if you play your cards right—and have a few winter salad recipes up your sleeve.
The secret to making a cold-weather salad sing is in the ingredients you choose. According to Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian in the New York City area and owner of Plant-Based Eats, some of the most common winter salad ingredients include roasted vegetables (ideally ones that are in-season, like winter squashes and other root vegetables), vegetarian protein sources (think beans and eggs), and dark leafy greens like arugula and spinach. Celebrity chef and certified nutritionist Serena Poon also loves to use beets, butternut squash, Brussel sprouts, root vegetables, mushrooms, ancient grains, nuts, and warming spices like garlic and ginger in her winter salads.
The beauty of salads, winter and otherwise, is that you really can’t go wrong. Choose ingredients you love, in this case, warming seasonal ingredients. Toss them together. Top everything with a dressing, and you’re good to go. But, just in case you need some winter salad recipe inspiration, keep scrolling for some recommendations from Gorin and Poon that will quickly become regulars in your winter dishes rotation.
1. Vegan Mediterranean salad
Give a classic Mediterranean salad (which often features feta, olives, tomatoes, and mint) a vegan and wintery twist by tossing together chopped prunes, edamame, roasted beets, sliced almonds, arugula, parsley, mint, and red onion. “The edamame is a complete plant-based protein that’s wonderfully fueling for vegan eaters,” Gorin says. “The beets offer lots of health-helping antioxidants and filling fiber, and you get heart-healthy fats from the almonds.” Dress the salad with a homemade dressing made by cooking garlic and prune juice over medium heat for about eight minutes and whisking in vinegar, olive oil, and salt. Voilà, you now have dinner handled.
2. Roasted stuffed butternut squash salad bowl
This warm and cozy salad bowl, courtesy of Poon, stars roasted butternut squash as both the main ingredient and the bowl itself. And it’s jam-packed with nutrition, including fiber, potassium, manganese, antioxidants, and vitamin A, C, and E from the butternut squash.
To make it, cut the butternut squash in half, drizzle some heart-healthy avocado oil over it, and season to your liking. Then roast it in the oven for 55 to 60 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, for the stuffing, prepare some tri-colored quinoa according to package directions, then sauté kale and chickpeas with thyme sprigs, salt, pepper, orange juice, and orange zest. Add pomegranate seeds and pine nuts to the mixture. Once the butternut squash is ready and has cooled down, scoop out some of the flesh (leaving about a half-inch border around the sides) and stuff the squash with the quinoa and kale mixture.
3. Warm Brussels sprouts, apples, and toasted almond salad
Nothing comforts quite like warm, nutrient-dense veggies on a chilly day, and this salad really delivers in that department. “Not only is this salad delicious, but it is also high in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and other healthy vitamins and minerals,” Poon says. “Almonds supply vitamin E, magnesium, and more antioxidants, along with healthy oils that will keep you feeling satisfied.”
Make this salad by cutting the Brussels sprouts in half, placing them on a sheet pan, and drizzling some avocado oil over them. Bake them in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl, where you'll combine with apple slices, toasted slivered almonds, and sea salt. Dress the salad with a honey lemon dressing made with—you guessed it—honey, lemon juice, plus whole-grain Dijon mustard and avocado oil.
4. Earthy salad with tofu, farro, kale, and shiitake mushrooms
“This delicious salad will bring your energy down to earth,” Poon says. “It contains comforting foods and spices that will warm your spirit and boost your immunity and digestion. Kale is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, delivering potent antioxidants and an array of vitamins and minerals.”
Cook up your farro according to the package instructions. Saute one garlic clove and ginger in a saute pan. Add in diced tofu and saute until brown. Then saute kale and shiitake mushrooms in another pan until soft. Once everything is cooked, combine it all in a bowl and top it with miso dressing made by whisking together white miso, rice vinegar, honey, peanut oil, and sesame oil.
5. Roasted beet and squash salad
Try another take on Poon's favorite, beets, with this delicious beet and squash salad recipe from chef Nyesha Arrington. The roasted beets and squash are brought together with a zippy lime vinaigrette that brightens up the flavors of the dish. Watch the full video above to get the recipe.
6. Broccoli slaw salad with flax seeds and hemp seeds
“This is a time of year we’re cooking with lots of broccoli—so save those stalks and make a broccoli slaw salad,” Gorin says. “It’s wonderfully simple and has a texture similar to coleslaw but is much lighter and cuts down on food waste. This salad boasts filling avocado and lycopene-rich tomatoes.”
To make it, combine pre-made broccoli slaw (or slaw you've made by pulsing broccoli crowns and stems in a food processor until shredded) with diced avocado and tomato in a large bowl. Toss in slivered almonds, ground flaxseeds, and hemp seeds, and sprinkle in some black pepper and salt. Lastly, top it with a dressing. Gorin recommends making one yourself by mixing rice vinegar, olive oil, and honey. In addition to being nutritious and easy to make, this broccoli slaw works as either a side salad to accompany other recipes, or you can make it the main attraction by topping with grilled tofu, salmon, or chicken breast.
7. Roasted root vegetable salad with horseradish vinaigrette
“Root vegetables deliver a robust and delicious variety of healthy phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber,” Poon says. “They also supply grounding energy that can help you feel cozy in the throes of winter. Horseradish can support respiratory health, so this can be a nice salad to eat if you are feeling a cold coming on, and beets are a great addition for heart health.”
For this salad, you can use any root veggies; Poon’s favorites include beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Cube the root vegetables and drizzle avocado oil over them, then season with Himalayan salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven on a sheet pan at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-55 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, whip up the dressing with avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, grated horseradish, and honey.
8. Warm anti-inflammatory vegetable salad
If you're looking for a fool-proof winter salad recipe perfect for easy weeknight eating, look no further than this anti-inflammatory warm salad from chef Sam Kass. His liquid gold turmeric dressing is the perfect companion to your roasted vegetables of choice (Kass uses broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and Brussels sprouts). Top with sliced shallots and parsley, and you're good to go.
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