When it comes time to prepare the holiday menu, few people clamor to be in charge of the “salad.” Today’s recipe for Winter Salad, however, is a side dish that’s so flavorful and festive, you’ll be heading back for second helpings instead of forcing yourself to take a second bite.
Kale salad is just not the sort of dish that garners the instant appreciation that’s showered upon Homemade Scalloped Potatoes. Such is the way of the world.
More often than not, winter salad’s purpose at holiday parties is to be the tiny speck of green on our plates that makes us feel less guilty about all of the Mulled Wine and Glazed Sweet Potatoes we are sure to ingest.
Two bites of kale salad, and we are absolved.
This kale salad, however, will not be overlooked.
Like my other favorite holiday salads, Apple Walnut Salad and the Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad in The Well Plated Cookbook, the bright, fresh flavors and beautiful colors here can sit proudly along side even the most cheesy of potato dishes.
5 Star Review
“I’ve made it twice and absolutely loved it! Perfect combination of flavors. Very easy.”— Stefanie —
Now, before you accuse me of being the menu-planning equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge for suggesting that you serve something as disturbingly healthy as kale salad at your holiday table, let’s pause a moment to consider the merits of this winter salad.
Why You’ll Love this Winter Salad
- It’s easy to make ahead. Because kale is a heartier green than spinach, kale salads can be dressed hours in advance without wilting; in fact, the longer this salad sits, the better it gets. (The same is true of this Winter Slaw.)
- It won’t occupy any space on your stovetop or oven, both of which are prime territory during a holiday meal.
- It’s red and green! So festive for Christmas. And, most importantly of all…
- It’s ADDICTIVE. Yes, I just called kale salad addictive.
The sweet pops of pomegranate against the salty, creamy feta and bright red onions will hook you at first bite.
How to Make Crisp Winter Salad
Dare to sign up for the salad. This red and green winter salad with kale and pomegranate will give you reason to be proud of your contribution.
It’s alive with flavor, easy to make, and ultra-festive for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
- Kale. While often viewed as an undesirable ingredient, kale gets a chance to shine in this winter salad. It becomes tender once coated in the Dijon dressing, and any bitterness is offset by the sweet pops of pomegranate. Plus, it’s rich in antioxidants and vitamin-K.
- Pecan Halves. Pecans add a toasty, crunchy element.
- Red Onion. I love the crisp bite that red onions add to the salad.
- Pomegranate. These sweet, sour, and juicy little seeds are a delightful addition. They also provide beautiful, festive pops of color, making this salad ideal for a holiday spread.
- Feta. Creamy, salty, and cheesy deliciousness. This salad is also delicious with goat cheese or a mild blue cheese.
- Winter Salad Dressing. Olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper create the most light, zippy, and delicious dressing that’s strong enough to hold up to the kale.
- Toast the pecans. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.
- Toss the kale and onion with the dressing. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Top with pecans, pomegranate, feta, and parsley. DIG IN!
To keep the flavor of the red onions but mellow some of their harsh afterbite, soak them in water before adding them to the salad.
Winter Salad Storage Tips
- To Store. While this salad is best the day it is made, you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- Store any leftover dressing in a separate airtight storage container.
Make Ahead Tips
Winter salad can be made up to 8 hours in advance (including adding the dressing—in fact, it will be better if you do!). Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve, or set out up to 1 hour in advance.
What To Serve With Winter Salad
- Salmon Wellington – Salmon Wellington is an easy but impressive recipe you can prep ahead for entertaining. Salmon wrapped in puff pastry with spinach, then baked until golden, this salmon en croute is to die for!
- Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Apples and Brussels Sprouts – Crispy rosemary chicken thighs baked with apples, Brussels sprouts, and onions in a delicious honey mustard glaze. Healthy, one pan, and easy clean up!
- One Skillet Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Italian Sausage – One Skillet Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Italian Sausage and Spinach. Healthy, EASY recipe that cooks in just one pan! Pure comfort and so simple to make!
- Cordon Bleu Chicken – Crispy baked chicken cordon bleu is a healthy version of the classic recipe. Tender chicken stuffed with ham and cheese, breaded, and baked.
Recommended Tools to Make Winter Salad
- Cutting Board. This one won’t slip out from under you while you’re cutting.
- Mason Jar. The easiest way to mix and store dressing.
- Measuring Spoons. A kitchen tool no one should be without.
For the Winter Salad:
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 small red onion
- 10 ounces kale stems removed and chopped into ribbons (if using bagged, pre-cut kale, use 8 ounces)
- 1 small pomegranate to yield 1/2 cup seeds
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on an ungreased baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5-10 minutes, tossing once or twice throughout, until toasted and fragrant. Watch carefully and set a timer so that the nuts do not burn. Remove from the baking sheet and set aside.
- Slice the onion thinly and place in a small bowl. Cover with cold tap water and set aside for 10 minutes while you finish preparing the rest of the salad (this will keep the onion’s flavor but prevent the onion from having such a harsh, raw bite.) Drain the onion and lightly pat dry.
- Slice the pomegranate in half across its “equator” (NOT top to bottom). Working one half at a time, turn the pomegranate over an empty bowl, cut side down, and squeeze it gently all the way around to loosen the seeds. With the back of a wooden spoon, firmly wrap the back of the pomegranate, knocking the seeds into the bowl (be careful—the juice can splatter). Rotate the pomegranate then repeat, so that you tap it all the way around and knock out as many seeds as possible. Slice the pomegranate into big wedges and remove any seeds you missed with your fingers. Repeat with the second half. Measure out 1/2 cup of the seeds for the recipe, then save the rest for a different use.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper. Alternatively, you can shake all of the ingredients together in a tightly sealed mason jar.
- Place the kale and onion slices in a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the top. Toss to coat, then let the salad rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes if time allows (the flavors will meld and the kale will become more tender). Just before serving, sprinkle with the toasted pecans, pomegranate seeds, feta, and parsley. Toss lightly and serve.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Winter salad can be made up to 8 hours in advance (including adding the dressing—in fact, it will be better if you do!). Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve, or set out up to 1 hour in advance.
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