Winter Salads

When March rolls around, it's not unusual for people to think about all the fresh produce that is on its way to the market. That, however, isn't very fair to winter ... which has its own way of handling salads. Chock full of great ingredients that give nods to both comfort foods and spicy ingredients, there's a lot to be said for the salads of winter.

Everything from a warm potato salad that's brimming with a creamy goat cheese dressing and peas to a chopped salad that features spicy shrimp can take advantage of ingredients available throughout the year or, in the case of citrus, is at its best during the winter months. Whether you choose to have your winter salads alongside your hearty stews or make them a meal on their own, please consider including salads on your winter menus. After all, it doesn't need to be July in order for there to be salad days!

Warm Potato Salad with Goat Cheese

Potatoes absorb flavors better while they are warm, so expect an extra tang from a warm salad like this. Creamy goat cheese adds an extra special touch. For extra flair, make this salad with four potatoes that have been roasted!
  • 4 large baking potatoes -- cleaned and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 T. water
  • 1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 c. plain yogurt
  • 2 green onions -- bias-sliced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2/3 c. frozen peas -- thawed
  • 2 T. finely diced roasted red pepper

Place the potatoes and water in a large glass dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave the container and its contents for 10 minutes and allow the potatoes to rest, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the goat cheese, yogurt, onions and seasonings to create a dressing.

Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl and drain away any excess water. Toss the peas and red pepper with the potatoes and mix in the dressing until everything is well-coated. Serve warm.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Spinach-Citrus Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Oranges are in season during the winter months and this salad takes advantage of them and the strong flavor of toasted walnuts.
  • 1/4 c. walnuts
  • 10 oz. baby spinach leaves -- cleaned and dried
  • 1 orange or 2 clementines -- peeled and sectioned
  • 1 T. finely diced red onion
  • 2 T. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 1 T. orange juice
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in an oven that's been preheated to 400 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, arrange the spinach, orange or clementine sections, onion and cheese on two salad plates. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the top of the plates.

In a small, resealable jar, combine the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously to combine. Drizzle the salads with the dressing immediately before serving.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Confetti Salad with Spicy Shrimp

Cutting the vegetables all the same size makes for a salad that resembles colorful shreds that are punctuated by spicy shrimp here and there.
  • 1/2 lb. salad shrimp -- cooked
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. chopped red onion
  • 1 c. chopped carrots
  • 1 c. chopped red pepper
  • 1 c. chopped green pepper
  • 1 c. frozen peas -- thawed
  • 1 c. chopped cucumber
  • 1 c. halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 c. chopped broccoli
  • 1 c. chickpeas -- rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 c. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. brown sugar

Combine the shrimp with the paprika, cayenne pepper and salt. Cook briefly in the olive oil over medium heat until the spice mixture on the shrimp becomes fragrant. Remove from the heat and allow the shrimp to cool.

Meanwhile combine the onion, carrots, peppers, peas, cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli and chickpeas in a large bowl. Add the shrimp.

In a resealable jar, combine the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously to combine. Pour the dressing into the bowl and toss well to combine.

  • Yields: 8-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes