During the hot summer months, we automatically add salads to our menu plans. A big bowl of crisp lettuce, cool cucumbers and sun-ripened tomatoes tossed lightly with an oil-and-vinegar dressing is always refreshing during the warmest time of the year. When salad-variety produce is at its peak, it’s easy to get creative with fresh veggie side dishes that go beyond the simple tossed green salad. The best salads are simple, with just a few ingredients, like sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and slivered basil, or cucumbers, red onion and dill.
As fall gives way to winter, many of us lose access to quality warm-weather produce. Sure, we can still find red, “vine-ripened” tomatoes at the grocery in January, but they’re likely to be firm and flavorless compared to those just-picked beauties we can get in August. The best summer salads simply don’t translate to winter.
But just because the calendar says February, that doesn’t mean we have to abandon interesting salad options. It’s easy to default to bagged mixed greens and bottled Italian dressing as a dinner accompaniment. But if you’re looking to jump-start your salad repertoire with seasonal ingredients, consider using grains, cool-weather crops like greens and winter squash, plus healthy add-ins like walnuts or goat cheese.
Get a bunch of fantastic recipes (like Winter Panzanella, where roasted squash and toasted raisin bread swap in for the traditional summertime tomatoes and Italian bread) in my full article on SparkPeople.com: 5 Savory Salad Ideas for Fall and Winter.