Winter Salads: Eat Your Reds and Greens
With fall in full swing and winter dancing around the corner, you might think salad season is long gone. But that would be a shame. Especially since cold-weather crops such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and leeks get a little sweeter when touched with a light frost or two.
That’s why building the ideal winter salad is as simple as knowing what’s in season. You won’t be missing lettuce and tomatoes when you can indulge in the savory sweetness of spicy mustard greens and sweet-tart pomegranate seeds. In fact, some of the best salad fixings are harvested in winter, and just in time for the holidays. Here’s a guide to all the reds and greens you’ll need to mix and match your perfect winter blend.
- Mustard greens
Peppery, pleasantly bitter and full of healthy phytonutrients, mustard greens are the new kale when it comes to fall and winter salads. Red varieties are slightly milder and work well when finely chopped in raw salads, while the green curly-leafed varieties are better for sautéing—it brings out their nutty flavor and mellows the bitterness.
Salad Tip: In fall when the leaves are mature, mustard greens have a more intense flavor that pairs well with soy sauce, toasted nuts and a homemade vinaigrette.
Meet the onion’s sweeter cousin, the leek. When thinly sliced, leeks make an exceptional substitution for sweet onions, shallots or scallions in raw salads. They can also be sautéed, steamed or boiled, tossed with pasta salads, or added to chicken and tuna salads.
Try This! Only the white and light green portions are edible. Remove the roots and fibrous leaves before slicing. To clean dirt between the layers, soak the slices in water in a PYREX® MIXING BOWL for about 5 minutes. Then remove slices to a colander and drain.
In winter, cabbage makes a hearty base for entrée or side salads. Three main types include green, red and savoy, with the latter recognized by its crinkly leaves. Red cabbage, however, is especially nice when shredded and tossed with vinaigrette for a tangy slaw.
Prep Tip: If cooking red cabbage for a salad, use an acidic liquid such as red or white wine vinegar or cider vinegar to help the cabbage retain its color.
- Brussels Sprouts
It’s true, you either love ’em or hate ’em. But if you love ’em, you’ll love them even more when they’re roasted—it brings out their sweetness. Fans also know that these mini cabbages are equally delicious when shaved and served raw in slaws or salads.
Good Idea: For warm winter salads, toss trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts with oil in a PYREX® EASY GRAB® 3 QUART OBLONG BAKING DISH. Roast at 450°F for about 40 minutes until the outer leaves are golden brown.
Quite possibly the queen of salad accessories, pomegranate seeds will make your dish pop. Each ruby-red aril is bursting with a sweet-tart juice that’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. And let’s face it, nothing says holiday salad like adding a little red to your greens.
Easy Prep: To remove pomegranate seeds without staining your hands, cut the pomegranate across horizontally. Use a knife to make small cuts in the white membrane in each half. Then submerge the scored halves in a PYREX® MIXING BOWL filled with water and gently remove the seeds. The seeds should sink to the bottom while the membrane floats to the top. Discard the membrane and drain the seeds, allowing them to dry on a paper towel.
When it comes to cranberries, think outside the sauce. Yes, you can eat fresh, raw cranberries, but they’re a little on the tart side. In salads, they’re best when thinly sliced and balanced with something sweet…say, apple slices, raisins or sugared nuts.
Sweet Idea: If raw cranberries are too tart for your taste, chop them and transfer them to a PYREX® MIXING BOWL. Then gently toss with sugar and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight before adding to your salad. Alternatively, you can soak whole berries in simple syrup overnight.
- Blood Oranges
Known for their dramatically crimson-colored flesh, blood oranges add a depth of color and punch of citrus that completes any well-balanced winter salad. Available December through March, with some varieties extending into May, you only have a short window to work this exquisite fruit into your salad repertoire. So if you see it, offer to bring the citrus salad to your next get-together.
Try This! Roasting citrus concentrates the flavor, adding a caramelized sweetness to your salad. Simply cut oranges crosswise (with or without the peel) into 1/4-inch-thick slices, toss with olive oil or honey, place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and broil for about 5 minutes.
The rich, full-bodied flavor of roasted beets is enough to turn any salad into an entrée, especially when paired with a creamy, soft cheese such as goat cheese or fresh mozzarella. And come holiday time, all you need is a sprinkling of fresh green herbs to dress beets for a festive party. Depending on your salad, roasted beets can be served warm or made ahead and served chilled.
Salad Tip: To roast, trim the leaves and scrub the beets. Then wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place in a PYREX® EASY GRAB® 2 QUART CASSEROLE W/ GLASS LID. Bake at 375°F for 45 to 60 min. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and slice.