The months from winter to spring hold a surprising bounty of ingredients for salad recipes from mild greens such as lettuces, lamb’s quarters, miner’s lettuce, and spinach to Asian greens including mizuna and tasoi. Not to be overlooked are bitter greens such as dandelion, kale, watercress, and endives (escarole and frisée). Besides greens, there are plenty of salad ideas from vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac (celery root), onions, pea vines, radishes, and root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips. Apples or pears also make wonderful additions to all types of salad recipes. While greens wilt quickly after salad dressing is added, most other sliced and chopped vegetables gain in flavor when dressed and refrigerated up to three days.
For fruits and vegetables that turn dark when exposed to the air (such as celeriac, parsnips, apples, and pears), be sure to place peeled and cut produce immediately in a bowl of water to which you have added a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to every quart of water.
Two Basic Salad Dressings
Basic Vinaigrette Recipe makes about ½ cup salad dressing, enough for 8 cups (serving 4 to 6 people generously) of lettuce or shredded vegetables. Whisk together 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or cider vinegar or lemon juice, 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and a big pinch of black pepper. Slowly whisk in another ¼ cup oil until well-blended and slightly thickened. Taste and add more salt if needed. If the dressing is too tangy for your taste, add another 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or sugar to taste. Cover and refrigerate vinaigrette, up to three days. For Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette, add to Basic Vinaigrette with the vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard and 2 teaspoons honey, or to taste.
Basic Cole Slaw Dressing with Mayonnaise: makes about 1 cup dressing, enough for 8 cups (serving 4 to 6 people generously) of lettuce or shredded vegetables. Whisk together ½ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup vinegar, and 2 tablespoons sugar.
Winter and Spring Vegetable Salad Recipes
Chive Vinaigrette and Smoked Salmon over Asian greens: Use Basic Vinaigrette and add ½ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard and 2 tablespoons freshly snipped chives. Toss with 1 large bunch shredded Asian greens and garnish with 2 to 4 ounces flaked smoked salmon.
Raw Vegetables with Dipping Sauce: For dipping sauce, use honey-mustard vinaigrette, Cole slaw dressing, or simply sprinkle a dish of extra virgin olive oil or nut oil with balsamic or fruit vinegar, dried herbs such as oregano, and crushed red pepper. Use small whole green leaves and cut vegetables such as carrots and radishes into chunks or slices for dipping. Alternatively, toss shredded vegetables with your choice of salad dressing and provide large lettuce leaves for guests to fill with seasoned vegetates for a “wrap” salad to eat by hand.
Winter into Spring Cole Slaw. Cole slaw is a shredded raw cabbage salad usually associated with summer that adapts to any season. Use Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette and add 2 tablespoons freshly chopped spring herbs such as chives, mint, or parsley. Toss with 6 to 8 cups of mixed shredded vegetables and fruits, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, radishes, rutabaga, and turnips, along with one shredded apple or pear.
Asian-style Cole Slaw: Use Basic Cole Slaw Dressing and add 1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic. Toss with 6 to 8 cups shredded Asian greens, shredded carrot, and shredded radishes. Garnish with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or chopped hazelnuts.
Shredded Raw Beets with Orange Vinaigrette and Bacon. Use Basic Vinaigrette and add 3 tablespoons freshly squeeze orange juice and 2 tablespoons freshly chopped spring herbs such as chives, mint, or parsley. Toss vinaigrette with ½ pound peeled and shredded raw beets. Serve over 4 to 6 cups mixed mild and bitter salad greens. Garnish with 2 tablespoons chopped mild spring onions and 2 slices diced thick bacon, cooked until crisp.
Wilted Cabbage with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts: Use Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette. Prepare 6 to 8 cups quartered, cored, and thickly sliced cabbage (any variety, Savoy, red, or green). Blanch cabbage for 1 minute in boiling salted water; drain well and pat dry with towels. Toss cabbage with dressing and garnish with 2 tablespoons goat cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped roasted nuts.
Roasted Pears with Onion Vinaigrette: Use Basic Vinaigrette and add 1 tablespoon of minced onion, leek, or shallot. Cut 4 pears into wedges, trim out the core, and toss pear wedges with 2 tablespoons oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 425°F oven for 20-30 minutes or until beginning to brown. Toss mixed greens with vinaigrette and arrange roasted pears on top.
Roasted Beets with Bitter Greens and Blue Cheese: Leave beets whole including 1 inch of stem and root, and scrub with a brush under running water. Place in a baking dish and roast in a preheated 425°F oven for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on size) or until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Cool, slip off the skins, and cut into quarters (small beets) or slices (large beets). Serve over 4 to 6 cups mixed