Comfort food is pretty much all anybody wants right now, it’s the best way to stave off the cold. But don’t forget – you need to eat your veggies! You can’t just live on pot roast, mac & cheese and tuna casserole all winter. Although that would be nice, you don’t need a case of scurvy on your hands. Now it’s time to take a break from the meat and the carbs and look into some hearty and healthy winter salads.
Beets are the best – you really can’t go wrong with this nutritional powerhouse. I like to to peel a bunch of them, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then wrap them up in a foil package and roast until tender. I always roast up more than I need to there are always beets on hand for any of the million awesome salads I can whip up. Some favourites include this Kale and Roasted Beet Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing, Roasted Beet and Apple Salad with Pistachios, Avocado, Beet & Orange Salad, and this delicious dish from Ottolenghi of Beetroot, Yoghurt and Preserved Lemon Relish.
Lentils are delicious, easy to cook and contain pholate, magnesium, vitamin A and a lot of fibre. Embrace the lentil this winter! Cook up a batch and try them in some new and delicious ways. A Warm Lentil and Carrot Salad recipe from Canadian Living is as simple as it sounds, just cook the lentils and toss with diced carrots, scallions and a hearty balsamic vinaigrette. This Lentil and Beet Salad with Lavender Mustard Vinaigrette from Saveur is amazing, as is the Lentil Couscous Salad by Rachael Ray that features cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and fresh lemon. For a blast of superfoods I love the Tuscan Lentil Salad from Chatelaine that is loaded with veggies; tomatoes, fennel, red pepper, artichokes and red onion.
Squash is another great veggie to load up on during the winter months. The sweetness of squash goes well with bitter greens like dandelion or frisée, this recipe for Endive and Apple Salad with Warm Goat Cheese is improved a great deal once you toss in a few cubes of roasted butternut. Roasted Acorn Squash with Dates and Pecans is tossed with curly endive in this Williams Sonoma recipe, making for an incredible salad that eats like a meal.
Pull-Apart Salad with Olives and Feta is one of my favourite recipes from my cookbook, The Everyday Squash Cook. The addition of quinoa and radicchio give great texture, body and a hint of bitterness, making for a complex dish that knocks most one note salads out of the running.