Ingredients For Delicious Winter Salads

An younf woman eating a warm winter saladFood crops harvested in winter months with the use of hoop houses or hot houses (such as used in California, USA) and other methods that extend the natural growing season, and old-fashioned storage vegetables like cabbages and potatoes all mean that there are plenty of winter produce to choose from.

What winter produce that is available, is sufficient to enjoy delicious winter salads along with great homemade dressings and vinaigrette’s.

The different crops available in the winter months include among others:

Beets: Available in season from fall through spring in temperate climates, and those available during the summer months, are from storage.

Belgian Endive: This leafy green is forced to produce under artificial conditions, making them available year round. Their traditional season, as with all chicories, is late fall through winter.

When grown in open fields they are covered with sand for about 6 months to keep out the light. When grown in hot houses they are placed in darkness for 6 months before shipping to market for purchase.

Read more here about the endive (includes a recipe with video): Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken

Broccoli: This and all other cruciferous vegetables can be grown year-round in temperate climates, but broccoli tastes best when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.

salad plate with Warm Winter Salad with Apples Spinach Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Warm Winter Salad with Apples Spinach Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Brussels sprouts: These vegetables are part of the cabbage family.  They grow on stalks, and they last somewhat longer than when sold packaged or removed from their stalks.

Cabbage: This vegetable is crispy when raw with bitter flavor, though it mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked.

Sweet Potatoes: This root vegetable is often referred too or interchangeable with yams. The two vegetables are different though.

Most yams in the USA are sweet potatoes. Yams are dry and starchy, and grown mainly in Africa and Asia. They can weigh up too 100 pounds.

Sweet potatoes store very well and are available year round in warmer areas. Though their season is from late summer through winter.

Other vegetables available in fall to winter months include, radicchio, radishes, turnips, winter squash, rutabagas, parsnips, chard, collard greens, cress, spinach, kale, carrots, leeks, fennel, and celery among others.

There are also a verity of fruits in season during the winter months that you can enjoy in fruit salads, or as a snack. To view the available in season winter fruits link here: Fruits Info – Seasonal Fruits.

Salads To Enjoy In The Winter Months

Chilly temperatures, and dark winter days are traditionally suited to cheese, meat, and vegetable casseroles, including pastas. A salad filled with raw vegetables may not seem appealing in the cold winter.

But what if you could prepare a warm winter salad, like this one – Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts. This recipe is offered by a professional chef, author, recipe developer, educator and certified health coach at A Food Centric Life.

THE RECIPE

Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

1 large bunch of organic kale (Tuscan, Lacinato or Dinosaur)

a white salad plate with Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

Image Credit: A Food Centric Life

1 large shallot

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

Handful of dried cranberries

Small handful of chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar (suggestion: infused balsamic fruit flavored variety like dark cherry)

Salt and pepper, to season

Bring a large pot (5 quart/liter) of water to a boil while you are trimming the kale leaves and slicing the shallot. Trim the ribs out of the center of the kale leaves, and then cut the leaves crosswise into ribbons. Slice the peeled shallot crosswise into thin rings.

When water boils, add 2 teaspoons salt, then drop the kale leaves into the water and cook for 2 minutes (called blanching). Drain well through a sieve and place kale on a clean kitchen towel. Alternatively you can steam your kale for 2-3 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.

In a medium sauté or fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat until warm. Add the shallot rings, then the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until softened. Be careful not to let them burn. Add the cranberries, walnuts, and vinegar. Stir and cook for a minute, then add the cooked kale. Toss the kale ribbons to coat and warm, season up with salt and pepper, and then serve.

Make this a even more warm winter salad by either serving the warm salad as a side dish with roasted chicken, as Sally the author of “A Food Centric Life” explains, or as a foundation for roasted salmon. She also suggests placing the warm salad over a bed of quinoa for a vegetarian or vegan entree.

Sally says you can use a fruit flavored infused balsamic vinegar like dark cherry or fig when making the vinaigrette.

Another great warm winter salad you can enjoy is: Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet

2 tablespoons olive oil

salad plate with Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet½ cup onion, diced

Red pepper flakes, to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups sweet potatoes, diced

2 cups fresh shrimp

3 cups trimmed and coarsely chopped kale leaves

Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat a a ceramic coated cast iron pan over medium heat, add olive oil.

Next add onions and red pepper flakes, and saute until onions are soft and browned.

Next add garlic and cook about 30 seconds more.

Next add sweet potato and cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes. If necessary add a 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to help cook the sweet potato.

Next add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they are pink in color.

Turn heat to low and add kale, stirring in until wilted.

Season to taste with salt and pepper (optional).

Plate and serve.

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BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

If only we could include the smell, of those vegetables barbecuing. You’ll just have to prepare this featured recipe to enjoy that smell.

Grilling vegetables is really easy and a lot of fun. Barbecuing gets you outside to enjoy fresh air. Put on a little music and enjoy the view of your garden. If you bbq in the sun, you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin-D as well.

The general rule to BBQ your vegetables is to cut them into pieces that will cook quickly and evenly. All the cut pieces should be of consistent thickness and no more than about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Most will soak their cut vegetables in cold water for about 30 minutes before grilling them to keep them from drying out.

BBQ vegetables are meant for entertaining, and grilling them brings out their natural sweetness, and the the seasoning mix or marinade adds a real punch of flavor your palate is sure to enjoy every time.

Let’s get started with our featured recipe: BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter with a Avocado Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce. This vegetable platter makes for a great appetizer to keep your guests happily waiting while you finish up the main course.

Avocado vinaigrette and Garlic Lemon seasoningHere is what you will need.

1/2 pound green beans, fresh, trimmed

1 medium sweet potato, cut french fry style, 1 inch thick (option to remove or leave peel on)

1 each red, yellow, purple carrots, medium size, cut into strips, 1 inch thick (option to remove or leave peel on)

2 teaspoons garlic lemon seasoning (we purchased the seasoning at Whole Foods Market)

1/8 to 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup of Cindy’s Kitchen “Fresh Avocado Vinaigrette” (purchased at Whole Foods Market)

4 or 5 tablespoons greek yogurt, with full fat

Seasoned Vegetables for BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable PlatterLine your BBQ grill with some aluminum foil, put grill into place, and heat the grill with your favorite method (chips, charcoal, or gas). While waiting for grill to heat, in a large mixing bowl add the oil, vinegar, and seasoning. Next add the cut vegetables and mix until well coated.

After preparing the vegetables (no we did not soak them in water, as the grill is foil lined they are not exposed to the flame) spread out the season coated vegetables onto the hot grill, then turn down fire (if using gas).

Grill the vegetables, turning occasionally, for about 7 to 8 minutes (if using gas). Do not overcook, as the vegetables can dry out, and will become flimsy, which you do not want. You want your vegetables cooked, but still firm and with some crunch.

Remove BBQ vegetables to a plate, and set aside to cool some while preparing the dipping sauce.

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter -close upTo a medium mixing bowl, add the avocado vinaigrette and greek yogurt, and mix until well blended. pour into a smaller bowl that will fit in the middle of a round platter with vegetables arranged around it.

Serve this prepared platter as a side dish or an appetizer to entertain your guests as they arrive, or even put it on your Sunday Brunch menu.

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Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

(close up) Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladAutumn gives way to cold days and nights. Just about all colors in nature have faded and plant life has gone dormant. But colors of nature are always at work, and they can be found in the foods we consume through the winter months.

Like Belgian endive, which peaks in late November and is generally available through early spring. Also available year round, are Brussels sprouts, which normally peak in the fall to early winter.

Through the winter we can obtain artichoke, bok choy, snow peas, and water cress. Of course most of that produce is green in color.

If you want to see color then feast your eyes on the red beets  as well as green and red apples, including green and red pears.

Fall winter produceThere is also oranges, blood oranges with its sweet red colored flesh, red pomegranates, and yellowish parsnips.

Not to forget cream skinned butternut squash with a deep orange hue colored flesh, and that brings us to our feature recipe: Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad.

Here at Splendid recipes and More we keep the health conscience in mind who not only wish to eat healthy, but also wish to know the nutrient value of the food they consume.

Butternut squash has folate which helps to build a strong heart and prevent a heart attack. The function of folate is to work against compounds that compromise the structure of the blood vessels. A correlation between consuming foods that contain folate and reduced incidences of colon cancer.

Researchers have found that a vitamin A deficiency, caused by A carcinogen in cigarette smoke, contributes to a vitamin-A deficiency, which leads to the debilitating disease of emphysema. Any winter squash including butternut squash, are rich in vitamin-A, which research suggests  could protect against emphysema.

It would be ideal to stop smoking, a diet rich in vitamin A and beta-cryptoxanthin may protect lung health if a person choose not to quit or is daily exposed to cigarette smoke.

Now for the recipe, and here is what you will need.

1 lb. chicken breast, fat trimmed

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, sliced 2 to 3 inches long by ½ inch wide

8 cups baby spinach, washed

2/3 cup fresh goat cheese

½ cup pecan pieces

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Himalayan salt

Black pepper

Garlic powder

Carrot and Ginger Dressing

seasoned roasted chicken breast - Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

Arrange chicken breasts onto a glass baking dish, and sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder according to taste. Place into a 350 degree oven and roast 10 minutes. Turn breast over and reapply salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and roast another 10 minutes. Check internal temperature of meat, if it is at least 160 degrees remove meat and set aside.

roasted butternut squash -  Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladPrepare butternut squash and place into a large bowl, but only after spooning in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven on 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or just until squash is baked but not soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladUsing four dinner plates, plate each with 2 cups of spinach.

Top with sliced chicken breast (about 4 to 5 slices) and 5 to 6 slices of roasted squash.

Top with pecans, and cheese, then pour on the Carrot and Ginger dressing (purchased at Whole foods Market). Serve and enjoy!

Salad can be eaten warm or cold, and served with fresh sourdough bread and real butter.

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