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ginger carrot salad served and plated

Make Hearty Winter Salads You’ll Crave

As in many places in the country, we’re having a killer winter. (I mean that in the best sense of the word because I love snow and skiing.)

But the snow and cold doesn’t do much for locally grown produce. Even that protected within greenhouses (unheated) have succumb to weeks of single digits, like these beautiful bibb lettuces I was eating only a short while ago.

The fact of the matter is that the wintery season demands a whole new way of thinking about salads.

Like giving up on lettuce. Just for now.

ginger carrot salad overhead with chopsticks

I know. I sometime feel like a meal isn’t complete without some mouthfuls of tender, fresh greens.

Of course, there’s always kale, spinach and chard–all of which grow year round in gentler climates, like Portland where the farmers market was tweeting about them this week.

{Ah, yes, not only kale but chard, too! Quite the sales pitch, LOL–and the reality of the season.}

Winter salad principles

So, why not focus on all the other hearty vegetables just waiting for their turn? That sexy lettuce getting all the attention the rest of the year relegates them to the darkness of your vegetable bins.

Now’s the time to let them out into the fresh air and celebrate them!

Beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (green, purple, savoy & napa), carrots, celery root, cauliflower, kohlrabi, parsnips, winter squash. Any one of these can be the base, the launching point and the inspiration for a winter-worthy salad–and only a few of them want for cooking.

Since we just got back from vacation, I looked to the 5-pound bag of organic carrots standing by in the fridge to salve my salad cravings this week. Overlooked except when it’s time to make carrot sticks or mirepoix for soup, carrots have so much more to offer.

ginger carrot salad ready to eat
Hearty winter salads like this ginger carrot quinoa salad deliver freshness, crunch and goodness.

Hello carrot salad!

And carrots don’t demand much more than peeling and grating. A standard box grater makes perfectly edible and still-crunchy strips for a grated carrot salad. I’m using this new tool I bought to make zoodles, a peeler that makes lovely long julienne strips.

Hearty up your winter salads

Once you have a main vegetable/launching place for your salad, there are so many directions to go to make it as fresh, crunchy and hearty as you dare with:

  • cooked grains, such as rice, barley, bulgur or quinoa
  • cooked beans, like white beans, black beans, lentils, or mung beans
  • crumbled or sliced cheese like feta, goat or blue
  • toasted nuts, like cashews, walnuts or these tamari almonds
  • leftover cooked meats, such as shredded chicken or turkey, sliced steak, pork or lamb
  • an egg: 7-minute, poached, fried or hard boiled
  • don’t forget the fruit–citrus, apples, pears and pomegranate

ginger carrot salad closeup

For my carrot salad, I used some quinoa for bulk and texture, cashews and loads of cilantro and mint for the green I crave.

Here’s a roundup of 16 winter salads that put many of these principles into effect. I hope you’ll be inspired to invent your own hearty winter salad ideas inspired by what you have in your fridge, what you love and your mood.

{Then, snap a photo and show me what you made at #lynne_curry on Instagram or leave me a comment.}

What about the dressing?

Winter’s salads can take a beefier dressing, so think bold, creamy and even warm or spiced. Bacon vinaigrette, creamy Dijon and buttermilk green goddess all come to mind, for example.

For this carrot salad, I went heavy with the ginger, which is warming, plus a hit of red pepper flakes for even more heat. With seasoned rice vinegar plus a hit of fish sauce (vegans substitute soy or tamari), it hits all the right notes. Seconds, please!

Stay warm and well fed everyone!

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ginger carrot salad overhead with chopsticks
5 from 8 votes
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Ginger Carrot-Quinoa Salad with Mint

This salad is an example of the principles of making hearty winter salads put into practice. It's crunchy, fresh and enlivening. It's great topped with cooked shredded chicken breast, too.

Course Salad
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 457 kcal
Author Lynne Curry

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes or more to taste

For the salad:

  • 4 cups grated or julienne carrots
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced purple cabbage
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews
  • 1 lime, sliced for garnish

Instructions

  1. To make the dressing, whisk the oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger, fish sauce, salt and red pepper flakes in a small bowl until well blended.

  2. Toss the carrots, cabbage and quinoa in a mixing bowl with 2/3 of the dressing, reserving the rest to drizzle on the salads at the table. (You can prepare this step up to 1 hour in advance.)

  3. Just before serving, add the cilantro and mint and toss well. Taste for seasoning.

  4. Serve the salad topped with the coconut and cashews, garnished with a lime wedge and pass the extra dressing.

Comments

  1. Katrin

    5 stars
    The mixture of ginger and fish sauce is always amazing. I bet this salad tastes amazing. Great recipe!

    1. Thanks Katrin! I think my husband ate the whole platter it was that good.

  2. 5 stars
    Hearty is right! Now that’s a salad that would satisfy me – winter or anytime!

    1. Hope you give it a try, Liz. Thanks!

  3. I love the fact this is packed with protein and I really won’t miss having meat (like chicken) in it.

    1. I don’t miss anything eating this salad. Of course, I love Asian flavors and this is mighty flavorful and satisfying!

  4. This looks like a very fulfilling salad! I don’t think I have ever tried cilantro in salad but this salad looks and sounds so good I have to try it! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m always inspired when I go to Vietnamese restaurants and they serve a whole platter of herbs–often basil–to put into your noodle bowl! This recipe follows suit using whole bunches of cilantro and mint as the greens. Hope you like it!

  5. 5 stars
    These are some seriously gorgeous looking salads. We’ve been reintroducing salads into our diet over the last week to try and repair the damage done by festive overindulgences!

    1. Can’t have too much salad, Elizabeth! Hope you enjoy them as you bring your eating back into balance.

  6. 5 stars
    I love a good salad and this recipe sounds incredibly tasty as well as healthy!

    1. This is one of my faves, Sarah. Easy to put together, satisfying and nutritious–plus you don’t have to wash any lettuce!

  7. 5 stars
    Oh, this sounds great. Love the idea of adding warming up ginger, especially now when it is soooo cold outside.

    1. Thanks, Margot. It’s good fuel, and I hope you are staying warm and cozy during this cold snap.

  8. Yum! Ginger is such a cozy flavor. I love all these salad tips for this time of year. Winter salads can be so tricky!

    1. Winter salads definitely demand a different way of thinking, but I love how they open up so many new salad possibilities. Hope you enjoy a cozy winter, Jenna!

  9. 5 stars
    I love winter salads! Lettuce is just too light in January – but carrots and cabbage? Perfect!

    This sounds delicious.

    1. I agree, Anne! Hope you give it a try.

  10. I love this kind of hearty salad, especially ones with peppy Asian dressings! This looks absolutely divine. And I totally hear you about the carrots only being used for carrot sticks or mirepoix – they deserve to be used so much more don’t they!?

    1. Absolutely! Hope you try this salad and let me know what you think, Sasha.

  11. 5 stars
    Love this post! Your salad looks amazing and I love your tips on making a great winter salad. 2017 is my year to get more veggies in my belly and this post sure will help.

    1. Thanks, Tanya. I’m always working on getting more veggies. Have a great winter!

  12. Kimberly @ Berly's Kitchen

    Yum! This is a perfect salad to start off the new year on a healthy note. So pretty and colorful.

    1. Trying to keep it healthy for 2017. Have a great year, Kimberly!

  13. 5 stars
    YUMMMMM! This reminds me of the salad I get at my favourite Thai place. Loving all the vibrant, freshness in this meal!

    1. Yeah, I was definitely going for freshness and vibrancy here. Thanks, Jacquee!

  14. I’ve been craving everything Asian lately, especially delicious salads like this one! Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Personally, I seem to be always craving Asian. Hope you try it and let me know how you like it, Kaleigh.

  15. This salad sounds very delicious.. packed with all lots of protein yet with the sweetness of carrots.. .and I love your photo shoot…excellent job

    1. That’s such a nice compliment, Jamala! Hope you try this. Happy 2017!

  16. These are great ideas for a good winter salad! Thanks!

    1. Hope you get inspired, Derek! Thanks for dropping by.

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