It may seem counterintuitive to crave a crisp winter salad on a chilly winter day, but chefs around the country are cooking up so many innovative salads that you'll soon find that winter can be the ideal season for a crunchy bowl of greens topped with all sorts of proteins and veggies. They mix in grains and seasonal ingredients from local markets along with innovative textures and flavor profiles by using persimmons and pomegranate seeds, so you can even skip the soup and still have a hearty meal.
Read on as six chefs share their favorite winter salad recipes, all of which you can make at home.
1. The Field Salad
This salad features lightly dressed mixed greens with mint and chervil, topped with a choice of four roasted vegetables, protein and dressing. It was created by Matt Weingarten, culinary director of Dig Inn, a chain of restaurants in New York, who says, "Featuring seasonal roasted vegetables, the field salad is literally built from the ground up. An ode to our community of farmers, this deceptively simple dish allows vibrant produce to steal the show."
The Field Salad
- 1 shallot
- 1 clove garlic
- Sea salt
- Fresh black pepper
- 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for vegetables
- 3-4 seasonal vegetable varieties, cut into 1.5-inch slices
- 2 ounces mesclun greens
- 1/2 cup kale leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup mixed micro greens (arugula, mizuna, frilly mustard)
- 1/2 cup mint and chervil leaves, hand torn
- 1 avocado, cut into wedges
- Fresh Parmesan, shaved
- Dressing of choice (optional)
- For the dressing, place the shallot, garlic, one-half teaspoon salt, one crack fresh black pepper, rosemary, and vinegar in a blender. Blend on high until pureed.
- Slowly drizzle in the three-quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil to emulsify. Dressing should be light and a little creamy looking. Make sure you taste and adjust seasoning before dressing your leaves.
- For the roasted vegetables, take your cut produce and place in a large bowl. Toss with oil and salt and pepper. For every one-half pound of vegetables you use, you'll need one tablespoon of olive oil, and one-half teaspoon sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper.
- Place vegetables directly into a hot, ungreased pan, or onto your grill. Cook until blistered well on one side, then flip and cook on the other side for 1 more minute, or until barely cooked through. Be careful not to overcook — the vegetables will continue to soften as they cool. Cool vegetables entirely before making the salad.
- For the salad, combine your mesclun mix, micro greens, and kale in a large bowl. Add the mint and chervil leaves.
- Dress the leaves with two to three tablespoons of your pre-made vinaigrette, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the leaves into smaller bowls, garnishing with the vegetables, a wedge of avocado, a few shaves of fresh Parmesan, and an optional drizzle of your favorite dressing.
2. The Harvest Salad
Created by Elderoy "Roy" Arendse, executive chef at Tender Greens, a collection of restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Irvine, the salad marries winter fruits and nuts for the "perfect alternative to traditional winter comfort foods," he says. "The dressing is light, yet flavorful and complements any variation of fresh produce. In the winter, it's easy to recreate at home using in-season citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit or blood oranges. Winter citrus is a refreshing alternative to the root vegetables we're eating this season and a great way to still eat light."
The harvest salad
Ingredients for balsamic dressing
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and rough chopped
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 1/2 cup golden balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions for balsamic dressing
- Combine all ingredients except the oils in a blender and puree until smooth. Once the mixture is smooth, slowly add in the oils (they can be combined first and added together. After everything is combined, add salt and pepper to taste. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Ingredients for salad
- 4 cups baby lettuce mix
- 2 seasonal apples, peeled and sliced into wedges
- 2 pears sliced into thin wedges
- Handful of grapes, sliced horizontally
- 1/2 ounce thinly shaved fennel
- 1 ounce candied pecans, rough chopped
- 3/4 ounce goat cheese
- 1 1/2 ounce golden balsamic dressing (recipe follows)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions for salad
- In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except salt and pepper and toss gently. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and lightly toss again.
3. Citrus & Fennel Winter Salad
Mixing Valencia oranges, sweet fennel and dill, "This colorful salad is perfect for brightening up a gloomy winter day," says Alex Resnick, the executive chief at Picnic LA. "Fennel and citrus are amazing this time of year, and I created this salad to highlight their amazing flavors and texture. At Picnic LA, we use exceptional J.J.'s Lone Daughter Ranch Valencia oranges and Underwood Family Farms sweet fennel. Savoy cabbage adds a satisfying crunch, while citrus juice bursts through with tons of flavor.
Citrus & Fennel Winter Salad
- 3 fennel bulbs (with their fronds)
- 1 head savoy cabbage
- 1 pink or white grapefruit
- 2 (+1 for juice)valencia or navel oranges
- 1 tablespoon celery seed
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- Kosher salt to taste
- Core the fennel bulbs and pick the fennel fronds from the stalks. Thinly shave on a mandolin or with a sharp knife. Core the savoy cabbage and shave it as thin as the fennel. Peel two of the oranges and slice them into thin rounds or half-moons.
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes. Transfer into a serving vessel and top with extra fennel fronds, orange segments and dill.
4. Winter Roasted Vegetable Salad
Michael Gellar, a chef at Sauce Pizza and Wine, an Arizona chain, was looking for a way to "indulge" in the vegetables of the winter season and devised this mix of cauliflower, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. "We took the freshest seasonal ingredients for the Winter Roasted Vegetable Salad and topped it with candied walnuts and dried cranberries to give it a sweet taste," he says.
Winter Roasted Vegetable Salad
Ingredients for champagne vinaigrette
- 4.5 oz champagne vinegar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 3/4 tablespoon white granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 tablespoon honey
- 1 3/4 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- A pinch of kosher salt
- A pinch of fresh ground pepper
Instructions for champagne vinaigrette
- Whisk or blend all ingredients except oil together. Once everything is well-combined, keep whisking or blending and slowly drizzle in the oil until all of it has been added.
Ingredients for salad
- 3 oz. Brussels sprouts, cut in half and roasted
- 3 oz. cauliflower florets, roasted
- 3 oz. butternut squash, roasted
- 3 cups of spring mix, whole
- 1 tablespoon cranberries, dried
- 1 tablespoon walnuts, candied
Instructions for salad
- Separately roast Brussels sprouts, cauliflower florets and butternut squash.
- Once cooled, combine your roasted vegetables with three cups of spring mix and toss with champagne vinaigrette (to taste). Top your salad with dried cranberries and candied walnuts.
5. Thai Crunch Salad with Almond Thai Dressing
"Eating produce during its natural growing cycle can lead to more delicious, nutrient dense meals," explains Lori Kenyon Farley, the co-founder of Project Juice. This was the inspiration behind blending some sweet winter veggies. "Cabbage and carrots are sweetest when grown in winter, making them ideal for winter salads. Paired with quinoa, a plant-based complete protein, and tossed with the protein-rich, immune-boosting dressing made with almond butter, ume vinegar and ginger, this is a delicious high-fiber seasonal salad that can serve as a great main meatless meal or heathy side."
Thai crunch salad with almond Thai dressing
Ingredients for dressing
- 8 oz. unsalted almond butter
- 1/3 cup tamari
- 1/2 cup agave (raw, organic)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 oz. umeboshi vinegar
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup water
Instructions for dressing
Blend all ingredients for dressing for two minutes. Dressing will keep for five days in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for salad
- 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/3 cup shredded green cabbage
- 1/4 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1/4 cup grated carrot
- 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves (picked from stems)
- 2 tablespoon scallions
- 1 teaspoon black and white sesame seed mix
Instructions for salad
- Cook the quinoa and place in bottom of serving bowl.
- Top with shredded cabbage and carrots.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves, scallions and sesame seeds.
- Top salad with dressing to taste.
6. Grilled Chicken Salad
Grilled chicken salads are easy to customize, especially with spiced pecans and dried cherries. Steven Corson, the culinary director at the Seattle-based chain of Homegrown Sustainable Sandwich Shops, explains. "When our organic farm turns into a mud field and hibernates for the winter, we have to get creative to make a great salad. Our grilled chicken salad is a delicious, sweet and savory combination for the winter months, tossed with organic dried tart cherries and spiced pecans."
Grilled Chicken Salad
- 4 oz. organic mixed greens
- 3.5 oz. grilled chicken
- 1/4 cup spiced pecans
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup baby tomatoes
- 2 oz. Dijon vinaigrette
- Place greens in a large bowl. Add Dijon vinaigrette. Toss to coat greens. Place in serving bowl.
- Place chicken, spiced pecans, cherries and tomatoes on greens. Garnish with fresh ground black pepper and parsley.