Greens Aren’t Just for Summer!

Author: Laura Newcomer  •  Date: January 1, 2019  •  Appears in: Recipe

Greens Aren’t Just for Summer!

Salad lovers, rejoice! Even in the dead of winter, it’s possible to eat nutritious, seasonal, and fresh salads any day of the week. In fact, winter is an exciting time to experiment with unusual produce that adds new textures, colors, and nutrients to your plate. Dig in to this winter produce guide and then get cooking!

First of all: What’s in Season? Your Guide to Winter Produce

The list of delicious, nutritious produce that grows seasonally in colder months includes but is definitely not limited to:

Dark leafy greens : Kale, chard (particularly white-stemmed chard), spinach, mustard greens, escarole, and others do well in colder temperatures and pack a serious nutritional punch.12 These dark leafy greens provide vitamins K, A, and C, plus a healthy dose of fiber.

Cruciferous vegetables : These include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. They’re nutritious veggies that are rich sources of antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce wear and tear on the body and may even help prevent cancer.4

Root vegetables : Turnips, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets: they’re all hardy, nutritious, and delicious. Combined, they contain antioxidants; vitamins C, B6, and K; and potassium, calcium, folate, and fiber.56

Winter squash : Winter squash comes in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, from pumpkins to knobby green goosenecks. While you wouldn’t want to bite into a raw version, cooked winter squash is incredibly versatile: put it to use in anything from soup to dessert. Squash also boasts high levels of potassium, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.7

Citrus fruits : Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits are juiciest in the winter. They’re also loaded with nutrients such as vitamin C and flavonoids, which can help increase “good” HDL cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.8 Of course, most people in the United States don’t live near citrus farms. So if you’re concerned about eating local, then leave these off your seasonal eating list.

Cranberries :  These tart little berries are a veritable superfood. Not only can they boost good cholesterol and lower the bad kind, but they’re packed with antioxidants and vitamins that have been shown to improve skin health.9

Pomegranates : Like their red-skinned cousin the cranberry, pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and promote good cholesterol.10 They’re also packed with vitamins E, B6, and K, and have been linked to improved cardiovascular health.

Now that you know what’s in season, it’s time to put winter produce to good use. Get started with one of these stellar winter salad recipes.

1. Beet Salad with Miso and Black Sesame

Mixing raw and roasted beets creates distinct flavors and textures. Roast the beets on aluminum foil for 30 to 40 minutes, then cool them before peeling and slicing. (You can prepare the dressing while the beets cool.) When made all at once, the salad takes about 50 minutes to put together. If you want to save time, roast the beets a day or two in advance and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

2. Cranberry, Feta, and Walnut Salad

Bright, colorful, and easy to make – what’s not to like? Feta and walnuts help to ensure that this salad keeps you full until dinner. When mixing the dressing, be sure to add the oil gradually, while whisking constantly, instead of pouring it all in at once.

3. Roasted Beet and Winter Squash Salad with Walnuts

Packed with nutrients and healthy fats (courtesy of the walnuts), this colorful salad makes a great side dish for a winter dinner party. Before roasting the beets, cut off the greens, leaving about half an inch of the stems on for roasting. And be sure to peel the squash before roasting it.

4. Raw Carrot and Parsnip Salad

Long, thin strips of carrot and parsnip and a simple dressing of lemon juice, mustard, honey, and olive oil celebrate the sweet and earthy flavors of these root vegetables. When peeling the veggies, discard the first layer, then peel off ribbons until you’re no longer able to produce long strips.

5. Orange Pomegranate Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Before preparing this salad, learn how to properly de-seed a pomegranate.Then make the dressing and set it aside while preparing the rest of the dish. When you’re ready to add the dressing, use your fingers to make sure all the ingredients are evenly coated.

6. Shaved Brussels Sprout Christmas Salad

Despite its name, this dish is great for any winter occasion. It features seasonal ingredients, including Brussels sprouts, kale, orange, and pomegranate. It’s also unique in that the ingredients are shredded instead of chopped or left whole. Before shredding the Brussels sprouts, rinse them off and remove the outer leaf.

7. Warm Pumpkin, Beef, and Spinach Salad

Hearty and filling, this protein-rich meal seems straight out of medieval times. While roasting the pumpkin with garlic, combine spinach, chickpeas, and coriander, and then grill the steak with cumin. Feel free to add blanched green beans or asparagus if you want more green on the plate.

8. Winter Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate, and Almonds

Shallots, preserved lemon peel, and fennel lend this dish a gourmet feel, while avocado adds a dose of healthy fats. Purchase the preserved lemon from a specialty store.

9. Winter Greens Salad

Embrace lesser-known winter veggies, including radicchio, endives, and watercress, in this delicate salad. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s incredibly easy to make. Simply whisk together the dressing and toss it with the chopped veggies, and lunch is served!

10. Roasted Root Vegetables Salad

Cilantro dressing adds lightness and complexity of flavor to this earthy winter salad, while a sprinkling of granola provides interesting texture and crunch. In addition to roasting the veggies, you’ll need to brown the topping of oats, pepitas, and almonds.

This list proves it: winter isn’t just for cheesy, gooey casseroles. Enjoy fresh produce and leafy greens all year round with these unique and flavorful winter salad recipes ! 

Are you looking for seasonal local produces? Search for it in your area on 


Laura Newcomer


Laura Newcomer is a writer, editor, and educator with multiple years of experience working in the environmental and personal wellness space. Formerly Senior Editor at the health site Greatist, Laura now lives and works in Pennsylvania. Her writing has been published on Washington Post, TIME Healthland, Greatist, DailyBurn, Lifehacker, and Business Insider, among others. She has taught environmental education to students of all ages in both Pennsylvania and Maine, and prioritizes living an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. She’s a big proponent of creating self-sustaining communities and accessible healthy food systems that care for both people and the earth. An avid outdoorswoman, she can often be found hiking, kayaking, backpacking, and tending to her garden.
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