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22 Hearty Winter Salads We Call Comfort Food

For when you're not feeling soups and stews.
October  4, 2023
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Photo by Rocky Luten

Temperatures are dropping, jackets and scarves are out, and all we’re craving are casseroles, sizzling cheesy sandwiches, and warm, winter soups—foods that are best eaten curled up on the sofa while searching for the next TV show to binge-watch. When envisioning these types of cozy comfort meals, salad may not immediately come to mind, but we're here to prove they should. Rather than the light and refreshing salads you might gravitate towards during the summer, winter salads should be hearty and filling—enough to sustain you during even the coldest of days.

Jazz up your salads with eye-popping colors and textures: Add cooked grains such as quinoa or farro, and throw in oven-roasted squash, beets, or Brussels sprouts. Winter greens—like leafy kales and chards—are always welcome, as are abundant toppings: Additions like toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries, and tangy feta can transform a humble side salad into the main event.
Here are 22 cold-weather salads that will reinvigorate your dinner menus this winter.

1. Farro With Carrots, Preserved Lemon & Crispy Chickpeas

This hearty bowl is the perfect example of a winter salad: It's got a filling farro base, carrots for sweetness, preserved lemon for tang, and crispy chickpeas for protein and texture.

2. Halloumi & Persimmon Salad With Creamy Miso Dressing

Just because summer's over, doesn't mean you can't add fruit to your salads. Persimmons are in season from roughly and make for a mild, sweet addition to many salads—including this one that also features seared halloumi and a savory miso dressing.

3. Burmese Slaw With Frizzled Onions

Cabbage is cheap, versatile, and hearty, making it the ideal base for a wintry salad. This one—which takes inspiration from Burmese thokes—is salty, spicy, and generously showered in turmeric-fried onions.

4. Roasted Butternut & Red Quinoa Salad With Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

Red quinoa, roasted butternut squash, white beans, cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds happily mingle with a spicy, lemony vinaigrette in this showstopper salad. Simply add a protein to make it a main dish.

5. Crispy Kale Chaat

Inspired by the Palak Chaat served at the iconic Washington D.C. restaurant Rasika, this salad consists of oven-roasted crispy kale, diced red onions, and tomatoes—all drizzled with cool yogurt and a sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney.

6. Sri Lankan Kale Mallung

Mallung, a Sri Lankan salad of shredded, cooked vegetables, can be adapted to make winter greens shine. Here, finely chopped kale is cooked with mustard seeds and diced jalapeño, then seasoned with lime juice and coconut flakes.

7. Spiced Beet Salad With Citrus-Ginger Dressing

Roasted beets seasoned with ginger and fragrant spices are the highlight of this bright, citrusy salad. Fresh mint leaves and dollop of Greek yogurt help create a cooling effect, while chopped pistachios offer crunch.

8. Shaved Fennel Feta Salad

This salad comes together in minutes—all you have to do is shave the fennel and slice the zucchini. A handful of toasted pine nuts adds richness to the final dish, while feta cheese brings brightness and tang.

9. Yogurt & Beet Salad in the Persian Manner

In this simple salad, earthy, roasted beets are contrasted with a refreshing bed of Greek yogurt or labneh. Salt, fresh mint, and a drizzle of olive oil on top complete this Persian side dish.

10. Butternut Squash With Chile Yogurt & Cilantro Sauce From Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes are a riot of colors, textures, and flavors. This one is no exception, bringing together sweet butternut squash, herby cilantro sauce, Sriracha-spiked yogurt, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

11. Favorite Winter Orzo Salad

Combine roasted butternut squash with orzo pasta, any winter greens, and blue or goat cheese for a salad that’s so flavorful, you don’t even need a dressing; the oil leftover from roasting the squash is enough to do the trick.

12. Spiced Peanut Sweet Potato Salad From Deliciously Ella

In this hearty, sweet-and-savory salad, sweet potatoes get seasoned with ground cumin, cinnamon, and ginger, tossed with a spicy peanut butter dressing, and finished with dates and parsley.

13. Warm Orzo Salad with Beets & Greens

This delightfully pink-hued salad features both beets and their greens. Sauté the beet greens with thinly sliced red onions before mixing them with cooked beets, skillet-toasted pine nuts, and al dente orzo.

14. Sweet Potato, Zucchini & Chickpea Salad

Caramelized, oven-roasted sweet potatoes and zucchini meet garlicky, sautéed chickpeas in this simple salad, which gets finished with a quick tahini and lemon dressing.

15. Warm, Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Salad

In this comforting, cozy salad, grated Grana Padano cheese gets melted over a bed of shaved and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, artichoke hearts, Castelvetrano olives, and roasted red bell peppers. Top with homemade bread crumbs for a gratin-like feel.

16. Winter Panzanella

Panzanella might just be the perfect winter salad. Hefty, crusty sourdough, velvety, oven-roasted butternut squash, and caramelized beets pair with tart Granny Smith apples, pungent red onions, and just enough bitter kale balance the whole thing out.

17. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Red Onion, Lemon and Pecorino

This Brussels sprouts salad comes together in just 30 minutes—yet it’s bursting with flavor. A no-fuss honey mustard dressing, sliced red onions (soaked in cold water to soften their bite), and grated pecorino cheese are key to nailing this punchy side dish.

18. Green Kitchen Stories' Winter Millet Salad

Thanks to the addition of cooked millet, this warm salad is a complete meal. Roasted butternut squash and hazelnuts offer textural interest, while the lemony dressing keeps things fresh.

19. Shredded Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad With Red Peppercorns & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Hand-crushed red peppercorns are the secret star of this winter salad. Marinating sliced Brussels sprouts in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice helps tenderize them, while a topping of pan-roasted pine nuts and honey mustard dressing complete the dish.

20. Roasted Butternut Squash & Toasted Farro Salad With Curried Brown Butter

Nutty brown butter spiked with curry powder ties together this salad of roasted butternut squash, toasted farro, shallots, and winter greens. Another obvious advantage, aside from the taste? No dressing needed.

21. Hearty Kale Salad With Kabocha Squash, Pomegranate Seeds & Toasted Hazelnuts

Olive oil-massaged kale meets caramelized kabocha squash in this wintry salad. Coupled with a trouble-free dressing of olive oil, mustard, lemon, and maple syrup—and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds!—this is a dish you’ll return to all season long.

22. Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad With Chile Dressing

Roasted sweet potatoes, red onions, and black beans get a boost from a fiery dressing of olive oil and chile. Serve this salad warm, at room temperature, or refrigerate to enjoy the next day.

More from Food52

This article was updated in October 2023 with even more of our editors' favorite winter salad recipes.

What winter salad will you be making? Share with us below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.
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Written by: Annada Rathi

To some people's frustration, I like to talk about food before cooking, while cooking, while eating and of course after eating.

1 Comment

judy December 15, 2022
These look amazing. Many are hearty, and would hold up to meal prep method, keeping for several days. I ahve a young man I make meals for. Several of these would be perfect, and he does not eat regularly., and so they would keep for a few days in the fridge without suffering too much. I think I will start with the bee one...
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