The idea of a winter salad is sort of an oxymoron. I mean, why make a salad in winter? Salads are cold and crisp and the perfect partner to warm days, not days that are also cold and crisp.
But a winter salad isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Here are just a few reasons to try one (for example, the Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Arugula, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese pictured in this post):
1. Even when it’s cold and crisp outside, it can be nice to eat something that’s also cold and crisp. Crunchy, refreshing foods are interesting for your palate, and can be welcome change of pace from wintery soups and stews.
2. Not all salads are cold and crisp. Take the classic Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing or this Farro, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Salad I created for Laura Chenel. Neither is piping hot, yet both are as cozy and comforting as a hug.
3. Why should tomatoes and cucumbers have all the fun? Those summer veggies are great—in the summer. But during winter, if you want to eat in season and enjoy food at its flavorful best, you need to focus on other veggies, many of which are killer additions to salad. The carrots, parsnips, and potatoes my Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Arugula, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese, sure. But also winter squashes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and celery root, to name a few.
Years ago at a restaurant, I had a salad of greens, circles of roasted squash, and pumpkin seeds with pan-seared swordfish on top. I’m still craving it.
4. Winter is citrus season, and citrus is awesome in salads. I especially love oranges, tangerines, mandarins, and/or grapefruit in salads that feature chicken or seafood, especially shrimp and crab. And love lemon and/or lime juice, especially Meyer lemon juice, in salad dressings.
5. Winter is also the season for winter greens, like chicory, radicchio, endive, escarole, and frisée. These tend to be a little heartier in both taste and texture, not nearly as delicate as the greens you find in a spring mix. Which can be a welcome change of pace. Plus, it helps them go with both the heartier winter weather and the heartier winter vegetables that you’d combine with them.
(It also means they tend to have a longer shelf life than the more delicate stuff. Amen to that.)
I confess that about 90% of the time, no matter what the season, salad is what I’m craving. So for me, that’s reason enough to make a salad in winter.
But perhaps the best reason of all is this—there are a lot of amazing winter salad possibilities. Any of the above, for example. And it’s a shame for delicious possibilities to go uneaten.
Even in winter.
Four seasons of salads
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Arugula, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese
Dungeness Crab Louis
Classic Cobb Salad
Spinach Salad with Chicken, Strawberries, Blue Cheese, and Almonds
Grilled Salad with Romaine, Peppers, Feta, and Cilantro
Tomato and Peach Salad with Feta and White Balsamic
Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad
Figs, Goat Cheese, and Mixed Greens with Candied Pecans