Salad lovers, rejoice! Even in the dead of winter, it’s possible to eat nutritious, seasonal, and fresh salads any day of the week. In fact, winter is an exciting time to experiment with unusual produce that adds new textures, colors, and nutrients to your plate. Dig in to this winter produce guide and then get cooking!
What’s in Season: Your Guide to Winter Produce
The list of delicious, nutritious produce that grows seasonally in colder months includes but is definitely not limited to:
Dark leafy greens
Kale, chard (particularly white-stemmed chard), spinach, mustard greens, escarole, and others do well in colder temperatures and pack a serious nutritional punch. These dark leafy greens provide vitamins K, A, and C, plus a healthy dose of fiber.
These include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. They’re nutritious veggies that are rich sources of antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce wear and tear on the body and may even help prevent cancer.
Turnips, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets: they’re all hardy, nutritious, and delicious. Combined, they contain antioxidants; vitamins C, B6, and K; and potassium, calcium, folate, and fiber.
Winter squash comes in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, from pumpkins to knobby green goosenecks. While you wouldn’t want to bite into a raw version, cooked winter squash is incredibly versatile: put it to use in anything from soup to dessert. Squash also boasts high levels of potassium, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.
Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits are juiciest in the winter. They’re also loaded with nutrients such as vitamin C and flavonoids, which can help increase “good” HDL cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Of course, most people in the United States don’t live near citrus farms. So if you’re concerned about eating local, then leave these off your seasonal eating list.
These tart little berries are a veritable superfood. Not only can they boost good cholesterol and lower the bad kind, but they’re packed with antioxidants and vitamins that have been shown to improve skin health.
Like their red-skinned cousin the cranberry, pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and promote good cholesterol. They’re also packed with vitamins E, B6, and K, and have been linked to improved cardiovascular health.
Delicious Winter Salads
Now that you know what’s in season, it’s time to put winter produce to good use. Get started with one of these stellar winter salad recipes.
Mixing raw and roasted beets creates distinct flavors and textures. Roast the beets on aluminum foil for 30 to 40 minutes, then cool them before peeling and slicing. (You can prepare the dressing while the beets cool.) When made all at once, the salad takes about 50 minutes to put together. If you want to save time, roast the beets a day or two in advance and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
This unusual salad uses black (aka dinosaur) kale in addition to bulgur, tofu, and pears. Make the bulgur salad and roast the tofu in advance, then mix together all the ingredients when you’re ready to eat.
Feel like a rock star in the kitchen with this fancy trick: after shaving the carrots, “shock” them in ice water to take some of the bite out of their crunch and give them an appealing wavy shape. When combined with Greek yogurt, walnut halves, radishes, scallions, and seasonings, the salad makes for a protein-rich, nutrient-packed dish with lots of crunch and visual appeal.
Bright, colorful, and easy to make – what’s not to like? Feta and walnuts help to ensure that this salad keeps you full until dinner. When mixing the dressing, be sure to add the oil gradually, while whisking constantly, instead of pouring it all in at once.
This appropriately named salad features broccoli, broccolini, leeks, spinach, and parsley, and screams green. Lemon juice, black pepper, garlic, and almonds add extra flavor and crunch. If you’re able to chop the veggies ahead of time, making the salad will be a breeze. Be sure to make extra, as the salad keeps well and can be enjoyed for several days.
Simple, zesty, and colorful, this dish works great as a refreshing side. Just add some protein for a light lunch or dinner. The best part? It only takes 15 minutes to make! Be sure to fully remove the white pith from the grapefruit so its citrusy flavor shines through.
Before preparing this salad, learn how to properly de-seed a pomegranate.Then make the dressing and set it aside while preparing the rest of the dish. When you’re ready to add the dressing, use your fingers to make sure all the ingredients are evenly coated.
Long, thin strips of carrot and parsnip and a simple dressing of lemon juice, mustard, honey, and olive oil celebrate the sweet and earthy flavors of these root vegetables. When peeling the veggies, discard the first layer, then peel off ribbons until you’re no longer able to produce long strips.
Packed with nutrients and healthy fats (courtesy of the walnuts), this colorful salad makes a great side dish for a winter dinner party. Before roasting the beets, cut off the greens, leaving about half an inch of the stems on for roasting. And be sure to peel the squash before roasting it.
This vegan salad is colorful and has just a touch of spice, and the simple, nutritious recipe is a good way to use up winter squash that’s about to go bad. While the squash roasts, prepare the five-ingredient dressing and toss the arugula with black beans and raw pepitas.
Cilantro dressing adds lightness and complexity of flavor to this earthy winter salad, while a sprinkling of granola provides interesting texture and crunch. In addition to roasting the veggies, you’ll need to brown the topping of oats, pepitas, and almonds.
Despite its name, this dish is great for any winter occasion. It features seasonal ingredients, including Brussels sprouts, kale, orange, and pomegranate. It’s also unique in that the ingredients are shredded instead of chopped or left whole. Before shredding the Brussels sprouts, rinse them off and remove the outer leaf.
Simple, sweet, and tangy, this veggie-packed salad is easy to make. After mixing together all the ingredients, cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.
Chewy, crunchy, and comforting all at once, this warm salad has a distinctly upscale look. When cooking the barley, season it with salt. Don’t be afraid to let the cauliflower brown in spots, but beware of burning – that’s a quick way to upset the delicate balance of flavors in this dish.
Hearty and filling, this protein-rich meal seems straight out of medieval times. While roasting the pumpkin with garlic, combine spinach, chickpeas, and coriander, and then grill the steak with cumin. Feel free to add blanched green beans or asparagus if you want more green on the plate.
This filling meal gets some oomph from roasted squash and thick slices of cheese. Feel free to do most of the prep work ahead of time: roast the squash, make the dressing, and slice the cheese several hours in advance. (Just be sure to keep the cheese covered to prevent it from getting dry.)
Consume a week’s worth of antioxidants in one bowl with this sweet dish. The salad feels upscale thanks to its dressing – a simple syrup flavored with orange, vanilla, and honey. Store leftovers in a covered dish in the fridge; if it’s sealed properly, the salad should keep for up to a week.
Embrace lesser-known winter veggies, including radicchio, endives, and watercress, in this delicate salad. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s incredibly easy to make. Simply whisk together the dressing and toss it with the chopped veggies, and lunch is served!
Shallots, preserved lemon peel, and fennel lend this dish a gourmet feel, while avocado adds a dose of healthy fats. Purchase the preserved lemon from a specialty store.
This list proves it: winter isn’t just for cheesy, gooey casseroles. Enjoy fresh produce and leafy greens all year round with these unique and flavorful winter salad recipes.