Are you looking for a winter salad recipe for a special holiday meal or get together? My winter kale salad with apples and walnuts, harvest kale salad and balsamic roasted beet salad are the perfect holiday salad recipes!
While salad might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a holiday meal, it is certainly a great way to round out the menu and ensure everyone gets in a little veggie goodness along with all the treats! And who ever said a salad couldn't be festive?
Today I'm sharing my Winter Kale Salad w/ Apples & Walnuts, along with two of my other favorite winter salad recipes, perfect for the holidays or any time this season. I hope you enjoy!
Winter Kale Salad w/ Apples & Walnuts
For the Salad:
- 1 bunch kale (or 5oz bag of kale)
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 2 apples
For the Dressing:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- pepper to taste
For the Salad:
- Wash kale, tear leaves from stems and discard stems. Chop leaves into smaller pieces. If using bagged kale, sort through and remove any large stem pieces.
- Wash and dice 2 apples.
- Layer kale, walnuts and apples in your salad bowl to mix together.
For the Dressing:
- Whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and black pepper to taste.
- Toss the vinaigrette with the salad or drizzle 1 T vinaigrette over each salad portion.
What nutrients does this winter kale salad contain?
In addition to being festive and delicious, this winter kale salad is packed with nutrients! Here are some of the highlights:
- Kale: Kale is high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.
- Walnuts: Many consider walnuts to be the healthiest nut, in part due to their high antioxidant content. They may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, as well as supporting healthy brain function and healthy gut bacteria. They are a true super food!
- Apples: Apples contain vitamin C and lots of antioxidants like flavonoids that may protect against cancer. They're also a great source of fiber, which helps with healthy digestion.
- Olive Oil: Due to the type of fat it contains, olive oil may reduce inflammation. It also reduces the risk of Alzheimer's, stroke and heart disease. Make sure to get high quality extra virgin olive oil, as it retains more antioxidants and nutrients.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Made from grape juice, balsamic vinegar contains antioxidants that may help lower cholesterol. It also contains probiotics that are good for healthy digestion.
What are some tasty variations on this salad?
In my totally unbiased opinion, this winter salad recipe is super delicious as it, but as always, mix it up to suit your family's preferences and the ingredients you already have on-hand! Here are a few variations I think would be particularly tasty:
- Toast your walnuts: If you have time, I always recommend toasting nuts before you add them to a salad. It's as simple as adding the raw nuts to a dry skillet and toasting over medium low heat until fragrant. They cook quickly so be careful not to burn! Toasting nuts yourself, rather than buying roasted, helps you avoid any unwanted, often low quality, oils found in many roasted nuts.
- Add some goat cheese: If you eat dairy, consider topping this salad with a little goat cheese! Walnuts and goat cheese go so well together and this little extra can make the salad feel even more special for a holiday meal. Gorgonzola would also be delicious!
- Swap the fruit: Apples pair excellently with the walnuts in this salad but if you're looking to mix it up, try adding fresh pear or pomegranate arils instead!
- Make it a main: To turn this salad into a main dish, simply top with chicken. This would be a great satisfying but light lunch if you have a larger holiday meal planned for the evening.
What if my family doesn't like kale?
While everyone knows kale is super healthy, not everyone actually likes kale.
You can of course swap in a different green, such as spinach, but I recommend trying a few different preparation tweaks before you remove kale from the menu altogether.
Why you ask? Well, for two reasons. Firstly, kale is super healthy so it's worth a little effort to see if you (or your picky little one) can learn to love it.
Furthermore, kale is your BEST friend when it comes to prep-ahead salads. While other greens will often wilt or get soggy with time, kale is actually better after it has a little time to soak up the dressing. In my experience, families are way more likely to choose salad if it's pre-prepped so this fact alone is worth including kale!
If you're not already a kale lover, try massaging the kale. Simply rub the kale with a little olive oil and salt for a few minutes before assembling a salad. Use both hands and rub the oil and salt into the leaves for a few minutes. This simple step makes the kale so much more tender.
Another trick is using your food processor to chop the kale. Don't go overboard here, but pulsing the kale for a few seconds can make sure the leaves are cut small enough for even kiddos to easily chew.
Can I prep this salad ahead?
Yes! Like all Prep Dish recipes, this one is designed to be prepped ahead.
I recommend waiting to chop the apple and drizzle the dressing until you're actually serving, but you can totally wash and chop the kale, mix the kale with the walnuts and make the vinaigrette ahead of time.
When you're ready to serve, bring the vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk again if needed. Then add the diced apple to the salad and drizzle with vinaigrette.
What are some other winter salad recipes?
I'm so glad you asked 🙂 In addition to my winter kale salad, the two salads below make excellent holiday salad recipes.
This salad was inspired by some of my favorite fall flavors. It includes kale, butternut squash, oranges, walnuts and pomegranate arils.
Years after coming up with this recipe, it remains one of my very favorites! For anyone that feels they lose their taste for salads when the weather turns cold, I recommend a hearty Fall salad like this one. Just like my winter kale salad, this one can totally be prepped ahead of time.
My other favorite winter salad recipe features beets, walnuts and optional goat cheese. I find that adding a cooked element, like the beets here or the butternut squash in the recipe above, really ups the heartiness factor and makes salads more appealing for winter.
Not sure how to chop beets? Check out my YouTube video on my easy method for chopping beets!
If you hate cooking beets, consider precooked Love Beets, available at Thrive Market and some grocery stores! They're totally cooked for you and the only ingredient is beets. No stained hands or cutting boards necessary!
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