Start With Hearty Greens, Chicories, or Cabbages
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 secret weapons that will make winter salads delicious. Follow these steps to create your own perfect winter salad or go ahead and use one of the recipes mentioned below.
Many greens you may be used to cooking—chard and dino kale in particular—are perfectly delicious raw. This fresh and easy kale salad is a prime example. Buy small-leafed versions when you can find them, and cut the leaves into bite-size pieces or, even better, ribbon-like shreds.
Add a Hint of Salt
Hearty greens and chicories can handle a lot of flavor, including plenty of salt if you're so inclined. Feta, cojita, and blue cheeses are all great matches for winter salads—just crumble them to taste. Olives—either whole pitted, or pitted and chopped—are also good bets. You can even whirl pitted olives right into the dressing.
Toss In Something Crunchy
Hearty greens and chicories have a lot of body and texture of their own, so feel free to add some serious crunch to the proceedings. Nuts, croutons, slices of radish, pieces of fennel, slim coins of carrots—anything that will work your teeth and jaws just a little bit.
Don't Forget Something Sweet
The bitter edge underneath greens and chicories can benefit from 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. A great starting point is our endive kumquat salad.
Ditch the Leaves Entirely
Like a Caprese salad or marinated green bean salad, even the best summer salads don't always involve leaves. Some of the best possible winter salads don't involve greens of any sort. Roasted beet salads, celery red onion salad, celery root salad, or lemony lentil salad are shining stars without a leaf in sight, as are all sorts of sweet and pretty beet salads.