Summer may officially be the season of green salads, but wintertime versions have advantages that make them worth exploring.
The cooler weather seasonable greens are hearty and darker green, which makes them nutrient-rich. And, these thicker-leaved greens such as kale or spinach, can hold up to the addition of warm ingredients, opening up the possibilities for topping your salad with roasted goodies in a way that delicate butter lettuce never could.
Have some hearty root veggies in the fridge? Toss them (and some whole garlic cloves — yum!) in some olive oil and roast them up, and add warm to raw kale leaves with lemon juice, Parmesan and black pepper and you've got a winter salad rivaling anything you'd make in July.
Today's recipe takes inspiration from this season's holiday cooking pantry ingredients that I always seem to have on hand. Apples, leftover from apple pie, are the salad's real star, while the pumpkin vinaigrette — also of pie fame — plays an important supporting role.
I cut the apples into small cubes and quickly roast them in a little salt and rosemary at high heat, and the little cubes turn into sweet, herbaceous nuggets of flavor — like raisins, but better — and make other ingredients almost unnecessary. I add leftover turkey for protein, almonds for crunch and tomatoes for a tiny bit of acid.
You could even add blue cheese or feta if you happened to have some floating around the house, leftover from a cheese party platter. Feel free to swap out ingredients to match your pantry: As long as you are topping winter greens with something warm, whether roasted Brussels sprouts or pan-seared salmon, you'll be on your way to a tasty winter green salad.
GREEN SALAD WITH PUMPKIN VINAIGRETTE AND ROASTED APPLES
Start to finish: 30 minutes
2 large tart apples (such as Granny Smith), cut into 1-inch cubes (unpeeled), about 3 cups
2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary
5 cups baby spinach or kale, or other hearty greens
1/2 cup baby tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked white meat chicken or turkey
1/4 cup marcona almonds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Olive oil in a mister
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 teaspoon minced shallot
a few turns of freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the cubed apple on a parchment-line baking tray and spray with an olive oil mister to coat the cubes. Sprinkle on the minced rosemary and salt, and gently toss the cubes to coat. Bake just until tender and edges are starting to turn golden, about 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool just a few minutes. While the apples are roasting, make the vinaigrette. Place the pumpkin puree, water, vinegar and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk the olive oil into the mixture until well-blended. Add the rosemary, shallot and black pepper and stir.
To assemble the salad: place the spinach in a bowl or platter and top with the tomatoes, chicken, almonds and warm, roasted apples. Drizzle with pumpkin vinaigrette, toss, and serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 239 calories; 75 calories from fat; 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 336 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 20 g protein.