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Dec 7, 2010 06:50 AM

Desperately Seeking Winter Salad Ideas

We are hosting three brothers, two sisters-in-law, and five neices/nephews ranging in age from 7-16 for a family Christmas dinner the day after Christmas. We are all omnivores with very few dislikes/won't eats amongst all of us, with only one allergy in this group and that's a nephew who is cannot have oranges (he's fine with lemon & lime).

I am planning to serve cold, rare roast beef (we actually all really prefer it that way) and a cider-braised pork butt (hot), and roast potatoes. But I need vegetables and frankly, I don't particularly want to cook them. I want to spend my afternoon playing with the kids! I have quite a number of vegetable casserole dishes I could make but I'm BORED with them and thought doing some salads might be fun. But... other than making our late mother's spinach salad, I simply cannot think where to start.

So help! Do you have great winter salad ideas OR, and I'm willing to re-consider a hot vegetable casserole I don't have to fuss over that afternoon if you've got something great up your sleeve.

FYI, and because I'm cooking, my own two food dislikes are olives (love the oil, hate the fruit) and lima beans, so they are not options. Thanks for the help!

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  1. Spinach salad, revisited: Baby spinach, thinly-sliced apples, chopped green onions, blue cheese crumbles and toasted walnuts, with olive oil vinaigrette.
    If you want a veg. casserole that you can heat up the day of the celebration, why not a pan of roasted, cubed squashes with herbs?

    5 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      I make a green salad (could be spinach, but not for me - I use romaine) with finely sliced red cabbage, mushrooms, pecans and dried cranberries. I don't have the dressing recipe at hand, but it's basically olive oil, rice vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, dry mustard and finely chopped red onion. It's tasty and a nice seasonal presentation.

      1. re: janeh

        I LOVE this idea. Never even thought about adding shredded cabbage or mushrooms, but what a nice texture and flavor contrast. And I'm thinking about pom. seeds instead of cranberries. But am definitely making this. What 'shrooms do you use?

        1. re: mamachef

          I just use white button mushrooms, liking the color contrast. Pomegranate seeds are a great idea, which I'll try next time. Enjoy!

      2. re: mamachef

        Spinach salad is a great idea.. just make sure not to dress it too early or it'll be a soggy mess.

        A nice light salad- shredded beets, carrots, and granny smith apples, chopped parsley in a lime and cumin dressing. I shred all the veggies in the food processor in advance and mix all with the dressing about an hour before serving.

        I also do an arugula salad with balsamic glazed onions and fruit. The onions take a while, but it's mostly unattended. Always gets rave reviews and it looks beautiful.

        1. re: mamachef

          I was kind of thinking the same thing with a slightly different twist -- goat cheese and marinated red onion strings.

          What about a cauliflower gratin? You can set this up ahead of time and bake when the meat is cooking. Stuffed artichokes also work well, since they take a long time to braise in a pot (at least the big ones do) and you can leave them in the hot pot, covered, for quite a long time before serving.

        2. There are some great Ottolenghi salads , using grains and greens or veg that could be prepared ahead and are pretty showy - however my family's go to green salad is much more simple - some mixed lettuces, radicchio and//or sliced endives, slivered fennel, slivered onion or shallots and roasted pecans or walnuts, dressed with good olive oil and a flavorful sweet-ish vinegar like a spanish moscatel . Pomegranate seeds and/or fresh mushrooms could easily be included.

          1. I made this excellent apple, endive, and gorgonzola salad for the Christmas meal last year, and it was really tasty and the perfect complement to the heavy meal. I was pregnant and craving crunchy green items- the family was not enthusiastic about the salad idea, but all came on board and enjoyed it more than they expected.


            1 Reply
            1. re: happybellynh

              i enjoyed this one, which is similar to yours,

              grapes, olives and almonds on radiccho and endive and a balsamic dressing...
              the contrast of flavours and textures really make it


            2. Celeri Remoulade is an easy make-ahead winter salad that would go great with your menu.

              One of my favorite winter salads is super-simple:
              Carrots and Fennel, fine julienne (use a mandolin slicer if you have one)
              dressed in good olive oil, lemon juice, salt, white pepper, and one crushed garlic clove.

              This second one was inspired by an orangette post -
              my contribution was mostly in the addition of fennel.

              If you get the julienne right, it looks lovely on the table garnished with a few fennel fronds and thin slices of lemon.

              1. I made this broccoli salad for friends a few months ago and everyone loved it. In fact, I made it again this week and I just had some for lunch. I like to cut the broccoli and cauliflower in small pieces and I added dried cranberries instead of grapes. And this time I added some (gasp) Bacos instead of real bacon.

                It is VERY easy and you can make it in advance (it actually tastes better if you add the dressing ahead of time), but I add the toasted almonds before serving.