Salads aren’t just for warm weather dining. The tastes of winter — warming spices, glazed or candied nuts, veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, and apples in their various forms — all contribute to delicious, cold-weather dishes that delight the palate. Add Avocados From Mexico, which are available year-round, and you’ve got a crop of winter-worthy salads!
Coleslaw might seem like a summer-only dish, the ever-present food at a backyard BBQ, but guess what? It’s dependable when it comes to winter meal duty, too. If you haven’t tried a cruciferous veggie slaw, you’ll soon have it in heavy rotation on your winter menu. Slice raw Brussels sprouts finely, along with broccoli, and mix with grated carrot, thin apple slices, and a maple vinaigrette for a refreshing side to any roasted or braised meat. Add a few dry-roasted walnut halves to the salad for textural interest.
You can also disassemble the sprouts and toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper before placing them in a baking pan and crisping them up in a hot oven — it’ll only take about 10 minutes to crisp up. Brussels sprout chips are an instant party snack, and on a salad, they’re a perfect substitute for croutons.
Who says salads have to be cold? You can create a base layer of greens like peppery arugula and watercress before topping them with just-grilled slices of your favorite sausage or steak. Finish by garnishing the salad with fresh citrus segments and roasted red peppers, zucchini, or wedges of your favorite squash. If you’re feeding vegetarians, you can skip the meats and substitute a creamy goat’s cheese, as well as a roasted, diced sweet potato accented with cayenne, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Here’s another option: Keep your salad cool, but add a warm vinaigrette, such as this one featuring bacon, drizzling it over avocado slices adorning the top of the salad.
Dried fruits have a special place on winter menus. They add just enough sweetness to most any dish, while providing a hit of jewel-toned color. A quinoa salad tossed with dried cherries, cranberries, toasted almond pieces, and pumpkin seeds (also sold in the supermarket as “pepitas”) sets the stage for a beautiful herb-based vinaigrette. If you prefer something a little more toothsome, try a salad made with wheat berries, farro, or amaranth, a grain that’s native to Mexico. Orzo, the “rice of pasta”, can get dressed up for any winter meal with the addition of diced, roasted beets, feta cheese, hand-torn greens, avocado slices, and pomegranate seeds.
Winter salads get their heft from greens that have hearty leaves, like kale and collards. Massage the leaves of your favorite green with a splash of olive oil to soften them up prior to dressing them with a vegan vinaigrette your family and friends will swear contains dairy. The secret is to blend some garlic or shallot in with the creamy goodness of Avocados From Mexico, along with salt, pepper, a bit more olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss in some pine nuts or sunflower seeds, clementine or orange segments, cucumber spears, and grated carrot into your salad. Only you will know the secret ingredient in the creamy dressing!
No matter what your preference, it’s always a good idea to balance out your salad by thinking of the various textures you’d like to eat: creamy, soft, crispy, and crunchy, for example. The same applies to flavors. Adding a squeeze of fresh citrus or some other acidic element, like vinegar, will ensure you don’t have an overly-sweet salad that might not pair with the rest of dinner.
Need more salad ideas? Visit the Avocados From Mexico website for plenty of recipes to keep you cooking all winter!