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Winter Salads: Think Outside the Arugula Box

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Winter Salads on

Summer salads are easy. A couple of chops of straight-from-the-garden fresh vegetables and you’re good to go. Winter salads require slightly more thought, but it’s a misconception that winter salads must be made from ingredients that are out of season. Winter salads can be made of deliciously bitter greens, earthy root vegetables, and sweet winter squash. Cooked dried beans and whole grains add nutrition, flavor, and substance. Toasted nuts and seeds provide the crunch. And, don’t forget tart, vibrant citrus. Winter salads offer the opportunity to look at ingredients beyond  lettuce and change the way you think of what makes a salad. And, face it, how much stew, chile, and low-and-slow braised meat dishes can you eat? Banish those flavorless tomatoes and flaccid cucumbers harvested on the other side of the globe and give winter salads a try.

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Helpful Hints for Winter Salads

1.Explore cold-weather greens in the raw like kale, collards, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

2. Be aggressive with dressing and vinaigrette qualities with flavor forward ingredients like ginger, garlic, and chili peppers.

3. Add seeds and spices for improved flavor and crunch.

4. Play with cooked whole grains and beans to give winter salads more depth and heft.

5. Citrus juice, zest, and segments are guaranteed to add brightness to nearly any winter salad.

6. Pair combinations of warm cooked and chilled raw ingredients for a variety of textures and temperatures.

7. Rehydrate dried fruits in warmed juice, vinegar, or dressing before adding to winter salads.

8. Add big, bold, bursts of flavor with intense cheeses such as Feta, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Ricotta Salata.

9. Blistering roasted root vegetables brings out their sweetness. Make sure to roast root vegetables in one layer in a hot oven so they will crisp and char, not steam.

10. Roast vegetables and dress them while warm to amp up their flavor.

Thanks for reading. Let me know your ideas for winter salads.

Bon Appétit Y’all! 
Virginia Willis

Roasted Vegetable Winter Salad

Serves 6
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Salad, slaw
Cuisine: American, healthy
Servings: 6
Author: Virginia Willis


  • 3 small beets peeled and diced
  • 4 to 6 small carrots peeled
  • 2 stalks celery ends trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cabbage cut into eighths
  • 2-3 tablespoons pure olive oil more if needed
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 pear cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed whole parsley leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • Ricota Salata shaved for garnish


  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking mat. Place the beets at one end of the baking sheet (so as not to color the entire salad red.) Place the carrots, celery, sweet potato, and cabbage on the rest of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the fennel seeds. Transfer to the oven and roast until the vegetables are blistered and tender, about 45 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. While warm, drizzle over the sherry vinegar. Add pear and parsley. Use a pair of tongs to toss and combine. Transfer to a serving dish and top with shaved Ricotta Salata. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. (That means I make a commission if you use my affiliate link to buy the product.)

Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has made chocolate chip cookies with Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Bill Clinton, and Julie Chrisley with her cooking -- but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Virginia is a chef instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen and author of Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South, Lighten Up, Y’all, Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Okra, and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome received a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence. She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network's Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of "Seven Food Writers You Need to Know." Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude and approachable spirit. Learn more about Virginia and follow her traveling exploits at

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