Goodbye Kiss to Winter Salads


March 14, 2023

Warm salad of parsnip, kale and date; cara cara and radicchio salad; Dijon shallot dressing

By the time this is published I will be headed to Sydney, and then home to Glen Innes, where I have not been in close to 7 years. It is late summer there right now, or maybe early autumn, regardless it is much warmer than Michigan is right now! When I return to Detroit, spring will be in full swing- rhubarb and ramp season just around the corner. And so, I wanted to write about one of my favorite things as they are just on their way out for the year- winter salads.

I love winter salads, they are like a shock of dopamine in the depths of the cold and grey. They nourish the spirit as much as the body. In Michigan, I eat a LOT of cabbage in the winter, it grows well around here and lasts in storage through most of the cold season. I also eat a lot of root vegetables, squash and potatoes, they too store very well and provide the sweet starches our bodies crave in the colder weather. I also really look forward to the not so local goodies that bejewel the grocery store during the colder months. Pomegranates, for one, beginning some time in November, and citrus which begin to emerge from the warmer states some time in November and continue to shine in various forms until about now, March. I love these fruits in salad, and along with madjool dates, they provide the necessary sweetness to balance the heartier leaves of my preferred winter salads.

Radicchio, kale and cabbage form the basis of my winter greens. Radicchio is one of the most finicky vegetables to grow, it is also a sometimes difficult salad leaf to love. It is bitter, which if you don’t love bitter flavors as I do, and don’t counter the bitterness with some sweetness, it can be downright unpleasant. I am lucky enough to have been able to experience the beautiful radicchio grown by Gwen at Coriander Kitchen and Farm in Detroit. She is a master gardener and anyone who lives in Detroit should make a point to seek her radicchio out when it is available in the fall. Kale always benefits from a little rub down with olive oil before you add it to the rest of the salad, and I actually prefer it having had a little heat, warm from the oven, as in the salad below.

These are two winter salads I have been enjoying recently, conveniently both with the same dressing as a base, with a slight tweak. The first is with roasted parsnip, which I also included in a soup I wrote about last week, it is a hearty, warm salad that is great on its own or as a side dish for roast chicken, lamb, baked fish or polenta. The other is a cara cara orange, celery and radicchio salad, a balance of sweet and savory. I served this with garlicky polenta and roasted squash for dinner the other night.

Dijon Shallot Dressing
This is a sweet dressing that is good for hearty winter salads with bitter greens. Please note that I have included 2 measurements for olive oil, the lesser amount being good for the roasted parsnip salad below which does not want as much oil as the vegetables are roasted and quite rich. If you were to use the dressing for any other application I recommend the second measurement of oil, but experiment and see what you prefer. You can always drizzle over a little extra oil after you toss the salad if it needs to be balanced.

1 shallot, finely minced

1 T maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 c white wine vinegar

good pinch of salt

1/2 c or 3/4 c olive oil

  • Combine everything but the olive oil in a jar with a fitted lid and shake well. Leave to sit for 10 minutes or so and then add the oil. Give it another quick shake and taste for seasoning, adjust as needed. Shake again right before using.