Two Simple Salads for Winter

When I was growing up, having a winter salad required a trip out in the snow to fetch the kale. From just looking at the twinkling expanse of our snow-covered garden, with its gentle lumps here and there, no one would ever guess there was life underneath. I would kick away the snow with my boots and dig with my woolen mittens until the bright green stalks came into view. There, hiding under the snow, was our daily salad and much-needed vitamin C boost during the long Yukon winters.

Over the winter months, do you find yourself craving the crunch of a Greek salad, full of cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers? What about the tender leaves of baby spinach or arugula? When we strive to eat seasonally, and thus sustainably, these are but just a few of the vegetables we give up, even though they are readily available in supermarkets.

Fortunately there are other fruits and vegetables to include in our diets to help satisfy the need for fresh produce on a cold January day. Apples, kale, pomegranate, grapefruit, cabbage, celery root, and brussels sprouts are just a few ingredients that lend themselves beautifully to the salad bar.

Here are two recipes I’ve been making forever. When the cucumbers and sweet cherry tomatoes of July are but a memory, they both offer that much-needed crunch.

Apple-Fennel Salad with Pecans & Pomegranate

This is the more labour intensive of the two salads as it requires a mini-chopping session; however, with just four ingredients, plus a vinaigrette, it comes together pretty quickly. Pomegranate seeds, toasted pecans, and vinaigrette can be prepared in advance so when lunchtime rolls around, all you have to do is chop up an apple and fennel bulb and toss!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salads
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 196kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 1/2 cup pecans toasted*
  • 1 large apple washed
  • 1/2 bulb fennel or 2-3 stalks celery
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Clementine Vinaigrette recipe below
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Wash and divide fennel, reserving half of it for tomorrow's salad. Place cut side down on cutting board and slice thinly.
  • Chop apple into batonnets (think 1/2-inch thick matchsticks) --or just hack it up any way you like!
  • In a medium bowl, combine fennel, apple, pecans and pomegranates and toss to combine.
  • Drizzle with clementine vinaigrette, season lightly with salt and pepper and mix well. Serve at once.


Tip: I like to toast up several cups of pecans when I'm baking something, and then store them in a glass jar so that they are ready to go for the rest of the week, rather than heating my oven too frequently.


Calories: 196kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 21mg | Potassium: 312mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Vitamin C: 17.2mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 0.7mg

Why bother to toast nuts? Well, just like toasting spices, subjecting the nuts to heat brings out their flavors and releases those natural oils. I find it also takes off that ‘fridge taste’. Yes, you should keep your shelled nuts in an airtight container (glass jars work for me) in the refrigerator to keep them as fresh as possible.

Clementine-Coriander Vinaigrette

Still got small citrus hanging around from the holidays? Grab a few and squeeze up this refreshing and tangy vinaigrette.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiments
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 60 ml recipe
Calories: 444kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 2 ripe clementines
  • 1 Pinch ground coriander
  • 1 Pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Pinch salt
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  • Halve clementines and squeeze juice into a microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for three minutes. (This reduces the juice, making the flavour more concentrated.) Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • Add coriander, salt, pepper and olive oil to the bowl. Whisk together until combined.
  • Taste vinaigrette and adjust seasoning as necessary.


Summer Variation: This vinaigrette is lovely on just about any type of greens (watercress! arugula! spinach!). Try adding half a clove of minced garlic for some extra kick.


Calories: 444kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 41mg | Potassium: 261mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin C: 72.2mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Kale Salad with Maple-Poppyseed Dressing

Admittedly, the appeal of this barely-dressed salad stems from my emotional attachment to that childhood lunch. We didn't have apples or oranges to jazz it up, but my mother's poppyseed dressing, sweetened with local honey, was enough.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salads
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 106kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 1 bunch kale washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup Maple-Poppyseed Dressing recipe below
  • Add-ins of choice: See notes below


  • Tear kale into a large bowl, using only the frilly green parts and discarding the tough stalks.
  • Toss kale with vinaigrette and any add-ins you wish. Taste for final seasoning. Add salt and pepper as desired. Serve.


Feel free to add your own garnishes:
chopped apple,
toasted almonds,
dried cranberries,
red onion slivers,
orange slices,


Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 63mg | Potassium: 169mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 3245IU | Vitamin C: 39.6mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 0.6mg

Maple-Poppyseed Dressing

Here I've swapped out the honey for maple syrup, another local specialty, and added a splash of lemon juice for extra acidity. No delicate vinaigrette for this robust winter green!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiments
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 12 Tablespoons
Calories: 90kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 1 teaspoon Dijon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • In a small glass jar, combine Dijon, salt, maple syrup, vinegar, and lemon juice. Finely chop garlic or grate with a microplane and add to the jar. Top with lid and shake well.
  • Add poppy seeds and olive oil, cover and shake well. Refrigerate until ready to use. May keep up to three weeks if kept chilled.


Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 51mg | Potassium: 9mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 0.6mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.1mg


More Winter Salad Links

Do you find January a tough month to eat seasonally?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Nisha @ Healthy Mom's Kitchen says

    I am drooling! The salads looked divine and then adding those dressing recipes on top – YUM! I will be featuring one of these recipes in an upcoming weight loss menu plan! We’ve been eating plenty of fruits and veggies even in these winter months many thanks to Bountiful Baskets food co-op. Most of what we get is in season.

  2. These look gorgeous, especially since salads are a treat for us this time of year. Last night I was desperate for a taco salad so used sprouts as a bed and topped them with a ton of fermented salsa and seasoned chicken. It hit the spot, but wasn’t quite the same. We’re out of olive oil so I am using raw or cultured cream drizzled over our “salads”.

  3. DELICIOUS!! It’s 7:30am and now I’m craving salad!

  4. You had me at Maple-Poppyseed Dressing! I’m with TideMom on the early morning salad craving! 🙂

  5. That first picture just made me happy. I love the idea of the crisp crunch combined with the sweetness, all cut buy the fennel. Adding this to the list of things I must make soon.

  6. hannah cook says

    oh it looks so yummy! We are trying to incorporate salads in our winter diet so I will have to try this!

  7. Amy @ Poor Girl Gourmet says

    Both of these salads look amazing, though I adore the simplicity of the kale salad, and the mention of local honey in your mom’s poppyseed dressing nearly started me drooling. Which is super-classy, of course. Also, you’ve given me some hope that the kale might be alive under the foot of snow in our garden. Must check on that now!

  8. Brian @ A Thought For Food says

    I’m always looking for a great salad recipe! And now I have TWO!!!

  9. alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says

    These look amazing! Love the apple and fennel combination

  10. How crunchy and delicious! I’ve got to try that vinaigrette…

  11. Crunch is one of my favorite parts of eating salad – these are beautiful and look so delicious. The best part – my kids would adore the top one, especially!

  12. I especially love the apple and fennel salad… Perfect flavors, and I am a big fan of the crunch, too!

  13. My favorite of the two is the fennel and apple and for sure! I love that combination and you made it even better with the addition of the pomegrante. Great flavor profile, and to boot, the pomegrante adds such a nice pop in color.

  14. Steve @ HPD says

    Madly in love with the apple-fennel combo this time of the year. A little bit of celery root is nice as well. Cheers!

  15. I do find winter, specifically, more challenging to eat fresh/seasonal foods. At least we have those fabulous Texas Ruby Star Grapefruit to brighten our winter though!

  16. Delicious, Aimee! I am definitely making that maple poppy seed dressing, and apple and pomegranates with clementine? Perfect for a refreshing start to a meal in the middle of winter.

  17. What a beautiful and appropriate post! This definitely is the hardest part of the year for me trying to eat locally. We’re lucky to have winter lettuce, but lose most of the creative combinations to go with it. I think the family is tired of lettuce with carrots and purple onions, even with different vinegars. 🙂 Thanks for the great ideas.

  18. What a beautiful salad! And that maple-poppyseed dressing – wow! I can’t wait to try that!

  19. Aimee, the maple-poppyseed dressing looks so yummy. Actually, all of it does. What a nice addition to the dinner table this time of year.

  20. I LOVE the sounds of these!!!!! They sound absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to try them!

    I also had no idea that kale would grow that well in cold climates. It is definitely going on my seed list for next year’s garden now. Thank you!

    PS Instead of discarding the stems from the kale, put them in your green smoothies. We use kale, spinach, etc. in our smoothies and the stems get lost in the fruit and still add to the nutrition. 🙂

    Thanks again for the perfect winter recipes!

  21. I was so excited to see this post. I try to buy seasonal produce,so I picked up some fennel today but had no idea what to do with it! This looks lime a wonderful salad. I know what we’re having next to dinner tomorrow! Thanks!

  22. I’ve def added this to my online cookbook (! I love the dressing. Great points about season eating.

  23. Both of these look great and I just love kale! It is so hard to walk past tomatoes in Jan. and stay on the path of eating seasonably but I’m doing it.

  24. those photos are just beautiful! YUM

  25. Great ideas for vinaigrette, I will definitely try them.

  26. The salads do look excellent in the middle of winter. However, I have found that I cannot tolerate raw kale. Has anyone else found that about kale?

  27. Everything is stunning as usual, but I’ve got to say, that apple fennel salad is just gorgeous! I am literally drooling as I imagine that first decadent bite!

  28. We eat salad every night with our dinner, but I have a hard time getting creative this time of year. Thanks for the yummy ideas!

  29. Any suggestions as to what type of apple works best here? A tart one, like a Granny Smith, perhaps? or a more “regular” type apple? thanks!

  30. 5 stars
    I really love Maple-Poppyseed Dressing, tried it so many times, never with kale so far, but very nice combination with arugula -beets-walnuts-goat cheese, or arugula-pears-walnuts, even with spinach is good. Thank you for the recipe.

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