How to tell a winter salad from a summer salad

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By Linda Morel

Winter salads sound like a contradiction — a chilling throwback to summer at the coldest time of year. But a winter salad is far different than its July and August counterparts.


Here are the telltale signs that distinguish the two.

Winter salads don’t depend on tomatoes or even lettuce. They may be served warmed to offset the season’s dropping temperatures. Calling for filling ingredients, such as potatoes or pasta, tuna or steak, and seasonal vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, the cold-weather salad is heartier than a dainty summer salad.

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A winter salad is a welcome side dish at this time of year, when people crave a little crunch after months of briskets and short ribs, braised vegetables, soups and Crockpot cuisine. The surprise of seeing something as familiar as a salad but with a different cast of ingredients excites the taste buds and gives everyone a renewed outlook on winter’s culinary potential.

Hearty Winter Potato Salad | Pareve

Serves 4 as a salad; 2 as a main course


Ingredients
1 large potato, peeled and coarsely diced
1 (7 ounce) can tuna fish, preferably albacore, packed in water
2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 heaping tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons red onion, chopped
¾ teaspoon capers, drained
¼ cup black Picholine olives, pitted
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions
Place the diced potato into a pot of cold water. Bring it to a boil and simmer until softened, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potato pieces in a colander and cool them to room temperature.

Drain the can of tuna. Place the tuna in a mixing bowl. With a fork, break up the chunks of tuna and mash until it is flecked. Add the potato and all remaining ingredients and toss until well combined. Serve immediately in an attractive bowl, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring the salad to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Orzo Salad | Pareve

Serves 8
Ingredients
1 (16-ounce) box of orzo
1 seedless cucumber
1 box of frozen corn, defrosted
1 box of frozen peas, defrosted
1 bunch of scallions, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or more if needed
Kosher salt to taste

Directions
Following the instructions on the box of orzo, cook the orzo until al dente. Drain it in a colander and cool it to room temperature. Reserve.

Cut the cucumber in half. Although called seedless, there are fine seeds in these cucumbers. With a knife, cut them out and discard. The skin is so thin, it doesn’t need to be scraped off. Dice the cucumber.

Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine well. Move to an attractive bowl. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Remove the salad from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Warm Kale and Mushroom Salad | Pareve

Serves 6
Ingredients
1 bunch of kale
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced fine
Juice from ½ fresh lemon
Kosher salt to taste

Directions
Remove the stems from the kale and discard. Chop the kale until it’s in bite-size pieces. Reserve.

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in a large deep pot and heat over a medium-low flame. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they give off their natural liquids. Stir often. Add the garlic and shallot. Continue stirring until they are fragrant,
about 2 minutes more.

Add the kale and drizzle on more olive oil. Stir and add olive oil as needed if the pot becomes dry. Sprinkle on the salt and continue stirring until the kale is slightly wilted. Quickly move the kale to a large attractive bowl. Cool briefly and serve immediately.

Brussels Sprout Salad | Pareve or Dairy

Serves 6
Ingredients
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 package of Brussels sprouts
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Kosher salt to taste
Optional: ¼ cup pecorino cheese, grated

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Toast the walnuts until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Watch the walnuts often as they easily burn. Cool and reserve.

Remove the tough outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts and discard. Slice the Brussels sprouts thin, and separate each slice into circles. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pecorino cheese, if using. Toss until well combined.

Move the salad to an attractive bowl and serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove the salad from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Linda Morel is a Philadelphia-area food writer.

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