Winter Crunch Salad.
In other words, how to beat the post holiday blues with the winter crunch salad!
By now you’re surely aware of my requirements for a salad. Lots of texture. Super satisfying. Definitely crunch on top. Nothing too mushy. This winter crunch salad meets all of those!
I feel like this week is the true start of the new year, you know? It always takes a few days to get into the swing of things, and as soon as that first full week of the new year starts, we’re in it. It’s the unofficial official start of the new year according to my brain.
This week, I’ll be breaking out my camera and some new recipes for the first time in over a month. I finished up photography and new recipe development in late November, so everything you’ve seen on the site, including this delish salad, was made back then. I’m so excited to get going again on creating some new delicious recipes. I have some crazy fantastic ideas that I am just dying to share.
It also means that it’s actually been over a month since I’ve made this winter crunch salad, which almost guarantees that it’s on our menu this week. I am SO excited. This salad is super delicious.
There is a ridiculous amount of crunch. I mean, a ridiculous amount. The brussels are crunchy; so is the kale. The pomegranate arils, apples and walnuts also contribute to the crunch. SO good.
My favorite part, however, is the smoky coconut crunch. Oh my gosh. Good luck trying to get this from skillet to bowl without eating it all. This might be my new favorite salad topper. I simply threw unsweetened flaked coconut into a skillet to toast – I do this all the time. But, I added a few drops (just a few!) of liquid smoke and holy cow, it added so much flavor. It turned the toasted coconut into a savory crunch and it’s something I’ll be reaching for all season.
If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, then you know my obsession with chopped salads. Something about everything being chopped into bite sized pieces – and being able to get a bite of EVERYTHING on one fork, along with the crunch factor that salads usually have – I live for it.
While this winter crunch salad isn’t exactly a chopped salad, it almost reminds me of a slaw or sorts. Lots of sliced flavor and crisp.
Perhaps the biggest shocker regarding my winter crunch salad – and the biggest shocker to me – is that we don’t have any cheese! WHAT.
What the what!
No cheese on one of my salads? Is this real life?
I actually intended on throwing some feta or goat cheese into this bowl, but once I got going with the salad, combining some of these wonderful ingredients and sneaking forkfuls while assembling, I realized that… it really didn’t need any cheese. In fact, I was afraid that goat or feta might take away from the crunch and the flavor!
So I left it out, which means we have a cheese-free salad, if you can believe that. I’m amazed at how much I love it.
The final drizzle is a citrus vinaigrette. I used seasonal satsumas for the dressing – oh my word, was it good! This is more of a honey dijon citrus dressing with so much flavor that I could drink it with a spoon.
This salad will serve two people generously, but it’s also a salad that holds up fairly well in the fridge.
I know! If you’re anything like me, the only thing worse than a boring salad is a leftover salad. It can be sad and wilted and pretty gross.
But I’ve found that if you don’t dress half of it and spritz a lemon wedge on the apples, then cover this well, it actually tastes great the next day. Kale salads usually hold up better than other lettuce salads, so you can enjoy this 24 hours later at about 80% of it’s deliciousness. Can’t beat it!
Definitely going to survive the winter blues with this.
Winter Crunch Salad
- 4 cups tuscan kale, removed from stems and sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
- 2 to 3 drops liquid smoke
- 2 satsuma mandarins, segmented
- 1 apple, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the sliced kale in a large bowl and drizzle with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale with your hands for a few minutes, then set it aside while you prep the other ingredients.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the other ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the brussels and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, as the brussels soften just slightly. Set the brussels aside.
Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel so it is dry (or use a new one!) and add the walnuts. Toast, stirring often, for about 5 to 6 minutes, just until the walnuts are fragrant and golden. Transfer the nuts to a bowl. If you’d like, you can chop them.
With the same skillet over medium-low heat, add the coconut. Add in the drops of liquid smoke and toss well to combine. Toast, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, just until golden. Turn off the heat.
Assemble the salad by adding the brussels to the bowl of kale. You can add another pinch of salt and pepper here if you wish, then toss the kale and brussels together.
Top the salad with the satsuma wedges, apples, pomegranates, walnuts and coconut. Drizzle with the dressing below or your dressing of choice!
In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, juice, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil. This dressing stays great in the fridge in a sealed jar for about a week.
p.s. you’ve got to go make that coconut now. Run!