This winter salad is a healthy and simple meal built with roasted seasonal vegetables, over a crisp bed of field greens. We take it up a notch with the optional (but so good) pomegranate seeds and pecans.
If you love to add toppings to your salads, this recipe is for you. By roasting the vegetables, you extract the caramel and sweetness they naturally contain.
I typically roast fall vegetables in a sheet pan for a few meals -like first for dinner and store leftovers in the fridge for salads like this one.
This is one recipe I often incorporate into my weekly lunch prep plan.
What is Winter Salad?
Winter salads are usually referred to using fresh winter greens tossed in a light dressing topped with seasonal vegetables. Here is how I like to build my winter salads:
- Greens: Kale, arugula, Bibb lettuce, Romaine, etc
- Roasted Vegetables: Beets, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes
- Cheese: Goat, feta, and farmers cheeses
- Toppings: walnuts, pecans, pepita or sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds
- Dressing: any vinaigrette
- Protein: Roasted chicken or turkey, optional
Today’s recipe includes a combination of roasted beets, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts but feel free to swap out whichever veggies you have available near you.
Warm Winter Salad
A recipe like this one is often referred to as a warm winter salad because you can roast the veggies, let them cool down to room temperature and then serve over a fresh bed of winter greens.
The roasted vegetables, the baked chicken (if using), are warm, and the crisp greens are room temperature or cold. The different flavors and textures make this salad anything but average.
Winter Salad Ingredients & Toppings
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this epic meal happen:
- Butternut squash
- Brussels sprouts
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Spring salad mix (Arugula, Butter lettuce, and Romaine)
- Maple Dijon Dressing
Want bonus points? Add a little crumbled goat cheese over the top. The creamy, tangy flavor goes perfectly with the roasted veggies.
How to Make Winter Salad
Salads are always an easy weeknight meal, and for this one, the oven does all the cooking while you assemble the salad. If you want to save even more time, you can prep this entire meal ahead, but more on that later. If you want to go through the cooking steps with me, check out this recipe to see how it’s done.
- Prep Veggies
Whether you wash, chop, and roast your veggies a couple of days before or right now, it’s always a great idea to make extra.
Preheat the oven to 375F and a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the veggies on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season, and toss to combine.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the veggies are fork tender.
- Make the Dressing
Place the dressing ingredients in a jar, shake, and drizzle. You’ll use about half of this dressing for the salad and it keeps in the fridge for about a week.
- Build the Salad Bowl
Build a bed of lettuce in a bowl, top with roasted veggies, pomegranate seeds, and pecans. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy.
Winter Salad Dressing Recipe
My go-to salad dressing for everyday recipes is a Balsamic vinaigrette. While it pairs well with this recipe too, I find that the Maple dressing (or vinaigrette) pairs even better with this winter salad.
It’s the perfect balance of acid, sweet, and fats that delicately coat the caramelized veggies and roasted chicken.
Recipes like this one are why I like to keep a jar of either dressing in my fridge at all times. The store bought is no match for this homemade version, and it takes 2 minutes to whip up.
How to Meal Prep Winter Salad
Meal prep is one of my favorite subjects, and this amazing recipe can be entirely made ahead from start to finish. Here’s how to do it:
- At the beginning of the week, roast the chicken and vegetables.
- Once cooked, allow everything to cool down to room temperature before packing into large food-storage containers and refrigerating for up to 4 days.
- While the chicken bakes, assemble the mixed greens in a large container and refrigerate. Prepare the Balsamic Vinaigrette or your dressing of choice and refrigerate.
- Ready to eat? Grab a bowl or meal prep container and fill with the mixed greens. Top with a portion of reheated chicken and veggies. If enjoying at home, drizzle with dressing. If packing for lunch, place the dressing in a mini sauce container and send it with the salad.
If you’d like to assemble a few salads in meal prep containers and store them in the fridge, you can do that. However, they won’t stay as fresh, so be sure to eat within two days.
How Long Does Winter Salad Last?
When it comes to meal prep, many people want to know if you can prepare the salad the night before? The answer is yes. If you prep and store the lettuce, chicken, and veggies in separate containers, everything will last for up to 4 days. From there, you can build salads throughout the week.
If you’d like to go ahead and make the salad, wait until all the ingredients are at room temperature before assembling everything into a large serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Prepping salads is always a great way to save time, and here are a couple of tips to make sure everything lasts as long as possible:
Chilled or room temperature ingredients only
Hot ingredients and toppings will cause the lettuce or greens to wilt and release moisture. This is fine if you are eating the salad right away, but if you want to prep the recipe ahead, wait till everything is at room temperature before assembling.
Add the dressing last
Always add the dressing just before eating. Most recipes will have vinegar or some acid that will break down the greens and release moisture, resulting in a soggy salad. If you plan to pack a salad for lunch, pack the dressing in a mini sauce container to be poured over the salad before eating.