Winter may not be everyone's favorite season for many reasons, but there is plenty to love about the abundance of delicious winter produce. I posted a video on IG yesterday because I was working in my food journal talking about salads and had this thought about how people get stuck on what a "salad" can be. Their brains automatically go to lettuce. But there are so many things you can either "add to" that lettuce or "swap out" instead to keep things new and interesting.
One of my favorite quick and healthy salads is this Chickpea, Tuna and Tomato Salad with Arugula. This recipe literally comes together in under 10 minutes and it makes a batch big enough for 2 to 3 lunch portions. If you are not an arugula fan, substitute it with some baby spinach. It's basically tossing the 5 main ingredients together with some extra virgin olive oil, a splash of white wine vinegar, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. It is super simple to make if you only have a few minutes to throw something together, or it is great to make as a prep ahead lunch on the weekend for your busy weekdays. This might become a new pre-ahead staple in your weekly rotation.
Root vegetables fine their way to the forefront in the winter months, Things like turnips, celery root, carrots, potatoes and beets are all in abundance this time of year. Beet salads are another fantastic way to switch up your salad routine. Making a beet salad with some crisp lettuce leaves, and creamy goat cheese is one way to go. Simply whisk together some champagne vinegar and extra virgin olive oil with kosher salt and ground white pepper and pour it over top. If you want to nix the lettuce all the together, try a combination of sliced beets, blood orange segments and thinly sliced red onion. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil round out this quick healthy winter "not-so green" salad.
If you are unsure how to deal with beets you have two options. The first is to roast them in the oven. It is the easiest cooking option. So, if you want to try this, go ahead and preheat your oven to 375°F then follow these simple steps:
Wash beets under cold water and cut off the top and bottom.
Cut the beets in half and toss with olive oil, kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
Lay out a large piece of tinfoil, top with a piece of parchment paper. Wrap and seal beets.
Roast the foil package for 1 hour or until beets are tender when poked with a fork.
Using rubber gloves or paper towels, rub the beets and the skins will just slide right off.
You can eat them hot with a little butter, or with a splash of vinegar. You can let them come to room temperature and add them to any salad of your choosing, and stick them in the refrigerator for another day. Beets are super healthy and a really delicious addition to any salad that you are building. The other options, which is also TOTALLY fine is to by them pre-made. There is this amazing brand called "love BEETS".... you can find it at the grocery store in the refrigerated area of the produce section. They are cooked and ready to eat or add to just about anything.
When you think of zucchini what do you think of? I used to think of over cooked, mushy veggies on my plate that I didn't want to touch with a ten foot pole, never mined a fork. Believe it or not, zucchini tastes FANTASTIC raw! And this shaved zucchini salad that I make might be your new go to for a delicious lunch or side salad to your dinner. The dressing is simple and the salad components are few.
For the dressing
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
For the Salad
2 medium zucchini
4 cups mixed field greens
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup macrona almonds, chopped
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini into ribbons. Add the zucchini ribbons, mixed field greens, Pecorino Romano cheese and chopped almonds into a mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over top, toss gently to coat and serve.
Another one of my favorite winter salads is a Tri-Color Salad. A mixture of delicate baby arugula, crisp endive and a a touch of bitter from some vibrant purple radicchio is just a simple and delicious way to get in your veggies. I love to top it of with some crushed walnuts and crumbled creamy blue cheese. Then I dress it with a simple balsamic vinaigrette, which is a combination of balsamic vinegar, some extra virgin olive, kosher salt, cracked black pepper and a little sprinkle of garlic powder all whisked together.
If you want to do this salad for a dinner instead of a lunch, you can simple add a protein on top, like a piece of roasted salmon, or some grilled chicken or shrimp.
Any way you can sneak in a few veggies a day and keep your meals fresh and new, the more likely you are to continue on your New Year New You path to healthy eating. So don't be a afraid to try something new, throw together a new combination of fruits and vegetables and just have fun with your food. Even though Winter might be bleach outside, there are plenty of fresh, colorful veggies and fruits to help brighten your day (and your health) in the produce department. Here's to keeping it interesting in the New Year!