By definition, a salad is simply a mixture or combination of smaller pieces of food that are usually served with a dressing. Most of the time, we picture salads with cold/raw ingredients, but sometimes it's cold enough outside, and you just want a light meal that's warm. Sometimes you just want a salad, but you want it to be warm!
That is precisely why a simple and delicious "winter salad" recipe is nice to have in your back pocket! When I asked my hubby whatflavors he thought would be good in a winter salad, he replied, "WINTER salad? Why is that a thing? Do we say Summer Salad? No... I think you should suggest putting a pumpkin pie on some spinach or a hot chocolate on kale." Why do I still ask him for feedback on this stuff? I don't know, maybe he's on to something? ;)
I'll provide MY recipe at the bottom of this post, but first, I'd like to lay out some options for you to create your own. This is helpful in case you aren't totally stoked about my recipe (but mine is GOOD), then you can still have the confidence to play with and make your own winter salad that will suit your fancy with some of the ingredients below.
STEP 1: PICK A BASE (or two!!)
- fresh baby spinach
- sliced brussel sprouts
- kale (massaged, you seriously gotta massage it!)
STEP 2: PICK A WINTER VEGGIE
- butternut squash
- delicata squash
- sweet potato
STEP 3: PICK A FRUIT (dried or fresh)
- dried apricots
- pomegranate seeds
- orange slices
STEP 4: CHOOSE A PROTEIN OR CHEESE (or one of each)
- hard boiled eggs
- goat cheese
STEP 5: PICK A FAT (or two)
- bacon (good quality - Applegate Farms is a good brand)
STEP 6: PICK A DRESSING
- Apple Poppy Seed Dressing from CarlsbadCravings.com
- Creamy Lemon Greek Yogurt Dressing from TheRecipeCritic.com
- Apple Cider Vinaigrette from 4HourBodyGirl.com
- Dijon Vinaigrette from TheFitHouseFit.com
I created a few different recipes before I settled on the one I knew I wanted to share. My favorite ended up being the first one I made, and the leftovers were delicious the next day!
Spinach & Quinoa Festive Salad
serves 2 with possible leftovers
Salad Ingredients :
- 6 oz baby spinach
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water or low sodium veggie broth
- 1 large delicata squash (or butternut if not available)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup unsweetened craisins
- 1/3 cup walnuts
Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing Ingredients (provides leftovers):
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 T rice vinegar (or raw apple cider)
- 1 T poppy seeds
- 1-2 tsp honey
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Soak the quinoa in water for 5 mins while you peel the squash.
- Use a vegetable peeler to scrape off the skin of the squash. Scrape out seeds and cut into 1-2 inch pieces.
- Pour out excess water from the quinoa, then dump the quinoa into a small saucepan. Pour 1 cup of water or veggie broth over it, then bring it to a boil, then cover and bring down to a simmer for 20 mins.
- Lay out squash on a baking sheet & toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20 mins, turning over around 15 mins.
- Pour spinach, craisins, and walnuts into a medium or large bowl.
- Make dressing by simply mixing all ingredients in a mason jar or container.
- When quinoa is ready, fluff with a fork and pour over the spinach mixture.
- When squash is finished roasting, add to the salad mix.
- Toss the salad a bit, then pour on the desired amount of dressing and toss again until well combined. Store the leftover dressing in the fridge.