Winter Salads: Fighting the Blues With Greens

Tasty winter salads can make meals livelier during the dreary winter months.


| February/March 1994



142 winter salads - photo 1

Winter salads using exotic couscous warm up even the coldest winter days, and a side of apple coleslaw will add color and festivity to ordinary meals.


PHOTO: JUDD PILOSSOF/FOOD STYLING: WILLIAM SMITH

It's depressing. That's the only way to describe preparing winter salads. Handling limp lettuce, crunchless carrots, and soggy celery just adds to the overbearing bleakness that hits many of us midwinter. Desperately we long for a little crunch, flavor—anything—in our greens. For those of us who aren't growing our own winter gardens in solar greenhouses, crisp, flavorful veggies can be pretty hard to find north of the Mason Dixon line. Even our pet rabbit turns up her nose at the sight of February's pathetic produce. It's no wonder people attempt to liven their salads by smothering them with heaps of oily or creamy dressings.

Some of you may consider rebelling by beginning a salad fast until June, when you can start harvesting the veggies from your outdoor garden again. Be warned, rebelling isn't such a hot idea. Winter is typically the meat-and-potato season, when we crave stick-to-your-ribs type foods (logical since our bodies need extra fuel to equip us for winter weather). But because cooking breaks down the fiber in our food, meat and potatoes are sorely lacking in fiber and other nutrients that are found only in fresh produce. Of all the times to skimp on nutrition, the cold and flu season may be the worst of all.

Fiber has another important quality during the winter months. It helps us control the extra weight that inevitably sneaks up on so many of us. Because raw produce has more bulk than cooked produce, you don't have to eat as much of it to feel full. As it is digested, the fiber takes with it waste calories that otherwise hang around waiting to metabolize as fat. Therefore salad skimping is one sacrifice you want to avoid. Because flying off to tropical veggie-rich climates in February may not be feasible financially, we need to start getting creative with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Here are some ideas that we think will liven up your winter salads and make them a part of the meal you look forward to again.

Couscous Salad with Harissa Sauce

 *2 cups couscous (1 use whole wheat instead of white couscous )
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of salt and cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed
3 green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs: cilantro, mint (use parsley if the other two are unavailable)

4 radishes, chopped (optional)

Spicy Hot Harissa Sauce

1 large clove garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed (for a milder sauce, try 1 jalapeno and 1/2 roasted poblano pepper with skin removed)
1/4 cup olive oil cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds 

Bring broth to a boil. Put couscous in large bowl or pan with a lid. Pour broth over couscous, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and add peas and spices. Stir in rest of salad ingredients.

In blender, mix dressing well, and store in separate container. Before serving, shake dressing and then drizzle over couscous.





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