8 Seasonal Ingredients for Making the Best Fall and Winter Salads
There's plenty of cold-weather produce that you can make into delicious seasonal salads. Look for fruits such as apples, pears, cranberries, and grapes; vegetables like fennel, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Here are some of our favorite healthy, seasonal ingredients for the best fall and winter salads:
Apples are plentiful during the autumn months. For salads, choose varieties that are sweet and crisp. Popular salad apples include Red Delicious, Fuji, and Winesap. Buy firm apples that smell fresh and have smooth skins.
"I like using Cripp, Braeburn, or Gala apples in this yummy salad," says teenbeauty.
"This easy-to-assemble salad combines the great crunch of apples and almonds with the sweetness of golden raisins and the unique texture of feta cheese," says SKETTYMAKER. "The tanginess of the raspberry dressing works really well with the crispy ingredients."
"Curry and raisins add a spicy and sweet element to this sweet and savory carrot apple salad with a fresh bite from parsley," says Alli Shircliff.
"You wouldn't think this mixture of apples, avocados, blue cheese, and tangerine dressing would go together, but it's wonderful," says Donna Smally.
"A sweet, tart, crunchy side dish that is especially nice in the fall," says daisy.
Discover more Apple Salad Recipes.
It's also the time of year to sample all types of pears. Select those with even color and a slight blush. Be careful when handling pears because they are delicate and bruise easily. Although there are thousands of known pear varieties in the world, there are a handful recognized especially for their superb flavor and fresh eating qualities: Bartlett, Anjou, Bosc, and Comice.
Quick Tip: To keep pear slices from browning, sprinkle them with lemon juice and place them in a water bath--or serve them immediately after slicing.
"This is the best salad I've ever eaten and I make it all the time," says Michelle Krzmarzick. "It is tangy from the blue cheese, fruity from the pears, and crunchy from the caramelized pecans. The mustard vinaigrette pulls it all together."
"Romaine, blue cheese, chopped pears, walnuts, and red onions, combined with a tangy dressing, make this salad unforgettable," says LARAL. "It is a sure hit worth trying!"
"This is the BEST salad that I've ever had," raves AMAE69. It was easy to make and all the ingredients work so well together - from the dried fruit to the apples & pears along with the cheese & the nuts - there's just a little bit of everything and just the right amount of sweetness and flavor."
A yummy, healthy salad loaded with nuts, fruit and greens, with the kick of curry and cayenne pepper. "Fantastic!" says baaramewe. "Everyone loved it. I used Bartlett pears and balsamic vinegar, and it tasted wonderful!"
"A fall and winter favorite," says JPMJ. "I am always eager for pomegranates to come in season so I can make this again. I make my own pomegranate juice by pressing the seeds against a metal sieve."
Fresh cranberries are very tart, and are usually sweetened up before they go into a salad. Dried cranberries add gorgeous color and sweet chewiness to salads.
Spinach, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries are tossed with a sweet and tangy, homemade dressing. "Great recipe," says J MONOPOLI. "Toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and a terrific dressing made this a favorite with my family."
Quinoa is tossed with toasted almonds, dried cranberries, bell peppers, curry powder, and fresh cilantro in this tasty salad.
"A yummy, easy salad with candied walnuts, cranberries, Gorgonzola cheese, mixed greens, and a raspberry vinaigrette," says MissyPorkChop. "It's always a big hit."
"Raspberry Dijon vinaigrette is savory with cranberries, toasted pecans, red onion, and feta cheese," says STACY38. A real crowd pleaser! Can substitute brie for feta, too."
A festive broccoli slaw salad dried cranberries, chopped pecans, green onions, and a tangy dressing. "I liked all the flavor of the dressing, with the garlic, lemon, and sweetness of the maple syrup," says Lillian. "The cranberries are also a nice touch.
Grapes are harvested when sweet and ripe, so look for plump clusters that are firmly attached to green stems. Once at home, refrigerate grapes until ready to use, and then rinse with cold water, halve them, and toss them in your favorite salad.
Fennel is available from fall through spring and adds a hint of fresh sweet licorice flavor to any salad. This aromatic plant is pale green with a celery-like stem and feathery foliage. Its root base and stems can be treated like a vegetable and baked, braised, or sliced and eaten raw in salads. The greenery can be used as a garnish or snipped like dill to enhance many recipes. Fennel's licorice-like flavor is sweeter and more delicate than anise and, when cooked, becomes even lighter and softer than in its raw state.
The cabbage family is wide and varied: broccoli and cauliflower are members. Some of the best heads of cabbage for salads are the crinkled-leaf "Savoy" types, also sold as Napa, January King or Wivoy cabbage. These are thin-leafed, tender, mild, and tasty. When choosing a head of cabbage, look for fresh, crisp leaves that are firmly packed; the head should feel heavy for its size.
Cauliflower and Broccoli
These vegetables are available year-round, but especially plentiful in the spring and late fall. When buying cauliflower, select one that is white or creamy white in color, firm, and heavy. Cauliflower may be stored for up to one week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Keep it dry and any brownish colored portions may be trimmed away before cooking.
When shopping for broccoli, look for leaves and stems with dark green heads. Look for tender, young stalks that are firm with compact buds in the head. Yellow flowers in buds or very rough bumpy heads may indicate broccoli is past its prime.