This is the perfect winter chopped salad! It’s full of color and texture, and it’s made with a 100% dairy-free pumpkin seed peppercorn dressing.
We tend to think of wintertime food as being a little monotonous. And maybe it is less vibrant than summer’s peak bounty of fruits and vegetables. But today’s winter chopped salad proves that colorful abundance can exist even in February.
This salad, along with my roasted root panzanella, is my February go-to for a fresh dish that also feels substantial.
I love the contrasting textures in this winter chopped salad. It’s got crispy carrots and celery, tender roasted sweet potatoes, toothsome kale, and sweet currants. It’s a simple mix of ingredients, but the zesty peppercorn garlic dressing adds tons of flavor.
The secret to not-sad salad in wintertime? Think outside the lettuce box.
There are so many ways to make salad without a conventional leafy green base. One way, of course, is to use different types of greens. This salad employs kale, which has been one of my favorite salad bases for years now.
But there are so many fun leafy options that aren’t your standard romaine or mesclun. I love using thinly sliced collard greens, shredded Brussels sprouts, radicchio, endive, shredded cabbage, julienned carrots, chicories, and even broccoli or cauliflower as a salad base.
Additionally, winter is a great time of year to use any produce that you have in a salad. Got leftover roasted root veggies? Use them.
It’s no big secret that I use cashews as a creamy base for everything.
When I’m not using cashews, I’m usually blending up tahini into my dressings. Most often that’s my every day lemon tahini dressing, but my delightfully green tahini dressing and balsamic Dijon tahini dressing, too.
But what about other nuts and seeds in dressings? Cashews and tahini aren’t the only option. Sunflower seeds make a wonderful savory, herbed dressing. The distinctive taste of hemp seeds can be mellowed out in a lemony blend.
And pumpkin seeds work beautifully in this winter chopped salad, blending into a tart, ever-so-slightly peppery, creamy mixture.
In addition to replacing dairy, seeds add nutrient density to any salad when they show up in dressing form. Seeds are good sources of healthful fatty acids and fiber.
And pumpkin seeds in particular are rich in zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants that are associated with prevention of chronic disease. I’ve been adding pumpkin seeds to salad for years, but it’s nice to find a new way to incorporate them.
As with most kale salads, you can store this one in the fridge for a few days. One of the advantages of using kale in salads is that it’s a sturdy green that keeps well, even after it has been dressed.
This means that you can prepare the winter chopped salad over the weekend and enjoy for the next couple days. Serve it with dinner one night, then add it to breakfast tostadas the following morning.
The salad would be great stuffed into a wrap. You could also combine it with whole grains and legumes in a lunchtime bowl.
There’s plenty of chopping involved here, as the salad’s name promises. But once you roast the sweet potatoes and give your chef’s knife a workout, the salad is easy to prepare. Just dress, toss, and enjoy.
Another nice feature of this salad is that it’s the perfect thing to serve with soups, stews, curries, and other warm winter fare. The crunch is a great counterpoint to all of those thick, soft textures, and the bright colors of the salad will add cheer to your table.
Hope you have a chance to enjoy this simple, fresh, and lively winter chopped salad soon. Feel free to modify and play around with the ingredients as you like! I’d like to try it with rutabaga or celery root in place of sweet potato soon.
There’s plenty of room to get creative here. No matter what, you’ll have a nutritious and satisfying cold weather vegetable dish on your hands.