Triptic of winter salads.


3 Winter salad ideas to keep dinner interesting

Jan 30, 2018

People often consider spring as salad season, with green sprouts among the first to emerge from the thawing ground. In reality, winter vegetables make ideal building blocks for tasty, sturdy salads, which keep things interesting when you get tired of roasting.

Root veggies like beets, carrots and parsnips can be chopped or peeled into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler; ditto for winter squash (butternut is easiest, with its solid, easy-to-handle neck), which makes them perfect for slaws. Cabbage-y brassica vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale (and yes, cabbage) can be chopped, shredded or thinly sliced, and its cousins — cauliflower and broccoli — can be separated into bite-sized florets. Don't toss the stem: the bottoms are even sweeter and more tender than the tops, even more so if you peel them first.

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As with any other time of the year, anything can be tossed together to make a salad. Try combining a few different colours and textures, knowing that when you’re using hardy winter veggies, they’re more transportable and will hold up in the fridge without wilting, so you can dip into them all week long. Try pairing winter veggies with beans (chickpeas, black beans, lentils) or grains like faro, wheat berries, barley or quinoa or just pair them with each other. And if you have cold leftover roasted vegetables in the fridge, they’re wonderful tossed with vinaigrette too. Reason enough to plan for extras!

Quinoa, Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Quinoa, cauliflower and chickpea salad.

Quinoa is quick and easy to prepare, but this salad is also delicious with hardier whole grains like wheat berries, faro or barley. Cook until just tender, cool completely and use in place of the quinoa.


  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine sieve
  • 1/2 small cauliflower, roughly chopped or separated into small florets
  • 1/4 cup golden or sultana raisins
  • 1 14 oz (398 mL) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped (discard stems)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 small tart apple, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts or almonds


  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar or honey
  • 1/4 tsp curry paste or powder


  1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions, transfer to a wide salad bowl and set aside to cool. Tip: add the raisins as it cools — the raisins will plump up as they absorb any excess moisture.
  2. Next add the cauliflower, chickpeas, parsley, feta and apple then drizzle with dressing.
  3. Toss, then sprinkle with toasted walnuts or almonds right before serving.

Serves 4

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Kale and brussles sprout salad.

This wintry kale and Brussels sprout salad makes a great base — try adding cooked, cooled grains or pulses, chopped apple, roasted winter squash and feta, or anything else you think might be tasty.


  • 1/2 bunch leafy green or Lacinto kale
  • 6-10 big Brussels sprouts
  • 2-3 tbsp finely chopped purple onion (optional)
  • 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds or whole roasted, salted, almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, aged Gouda or Pecorino (or to taste)


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Remove the ribs and thinly slice the leaves of kale — I do this by bunching them altogether, then slicing through the stack.
  2. Next, cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise and thinly slice them too, holding onto the stem (and then tossing the last bit of stem out). Put them into a bowl with the purple onion.
  3. To make the dressing, shake all the ingredients together in a jar or whisk them in a small bowl.
  4. Drizzle the dressing generously over the kale and Brussels sprouts and toss to coat.
  5. Scatter with almonds and Parmesan and serve.

Serves 6

Ramen Noodle Salad

Ramen noodle salad.

Crunchy ramen salad, made with shredded cabbage and the uncooked noodles from a package of ramen, is a classic in our house. You can also add grated beets, carrots, parsnips, thinly sliced kale and Brussels sprouts, or anything else that will give your jaw a workout.


  • 1 pkg. Ichiban or other ramen noodles, coarsely crushed
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 small purple onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted


  • 1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • half the noodle seasoning packet


  1. In a wide, shallow bowl, toss together the noodles, cabbage, onion and carrot.
  2. Shake all the dressing ingredients up in a jar or whisk them in a measuring cup.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat well, then sprinkle with almonds.

Serves 4-6

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.


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