Winter Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

With the arrival of winter depart the tender, lush green lettuces of spring and summer and the mood changes to crunchy and hearty greens to make interesting salads to hold our attention through the colder months of the year. Fortunately, nature’s wisdom allocated flavorful vegetables to each season, including winter when fennel, Brussel sprouts, chard, and kale are sweeter than during the summer months. This salad uses all of them , many from our garden, plus fennel fronds, carrot greens, apples, and sunflower seeds, dressed in a mustard vinaigrette. 

Our garden is going strong producing small batches of chard, lacinato kale, and arugula on a weekly bases, plus some carrots we left on the ground after the big harvest a few weeks ago. I used them on their own or mixed with different vinaigrettes and toppings. Sometimes the harvest is lower than our weekly consumption, so I purchase other seasonal vegetables to bulk up the salad and use our greens as fine accompaniments. For this salad I purchased fennel and Brussel sprouts. 

Fennel is a great addition to any salad, but I like it specially during the winter months when it lands a vibrant anise flavor and delicate crunch. One of my favorite salads is the simple and traditional Sicilian combination of orange and fennel, dressed lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and sometimes sprinkled with Sicilian pistachios
The most utilized part of the fennel is the bulb, however, I find that the fronds offer a delicate flavor to any dish, chopped and added right before serving, and the stalks are great in stews, or thinly sliced and sautéed with other vegetables. 

Brussel sprouts weren’t always in my favorite list of vegetables, which is a shame to think of all the amazing dishes I skipped because of it. Nowadays, we dress them with olive oil, salt pepper and a few pepper flakes {just a few} and roast them at 425F for 15-20 minutes, or sauté them, or simple thinly slice them and toss them with a vinaigrette for salad. During the winter their flavor is mild and slightly sweet, unlike the ones I’ve found in the summer, which can be bitter or even spicy. 

Both fennel and Brussel sprouts are considered cold weather crops and are abundant and well-priced during the winter months. Sometimes I add yellow beets and purple radishes, thinly sliced and cut into matchsticks, to this salad. This time I added apples instead of the beets, landing sweetness to balance the acidity of the mustard vinaigrette. 

I’m thrilled that Scott has become a fan of mustard, before I couldn’t use it on anything without him protesting, now he uses it on marinates for pork or chicken, or delights on farro salad with a hearty dose of mustard vinaigrette. I love this dressing with anything, it elevates the flavors of hearty greens, boiled potatoes for a French style potato salad, or a grain based salad. I use whole grain mustard for this dressing because it carries a wide range of flavor on each bite, and preferably Dijon style, which is made with white wine and vinegar rather than just vinegar. I tend to use too much vinaigrette to Scott’s liking and have learned to tamed it down to keep us both happy, my tastebuds are designed for high acid foods and low sugar, Scott on the other hand loves sweets and low acid.

Wine pairing
Albariño from Spain or chardonnay from Chablis are great pairings for this salad, or any high-acid wine like a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre or even Napa Valley, sauvignon blanc from New Zealand might overpower the herbaceous flavors of the salad with its high tropical fruit notes. 

Winter Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Serves 4

1 teaspoon whole grain mustard, Dijon style 
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
Put all the dressing ingredients in an 8oz major jar, cover and shake it to emulsify. You can make this dressing ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature before using. Shake it again to emulsify. I make a double batch and keep it for last minute salad dressing needs.

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced Brussel Sprouts
1/2 cup sliced fennel bulb and stalk
1 cup baby kale, arugula, or julienned chard 
1/2 cup apple, julienned
1/4 cup radish, julienned 
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons carrot green leaves
2 tablespoons fennel fronds

Toss all ingredients with the salad dressing. This salad withstands the past of time without losing too much crunch, making it a perfect to-go option. 

~ Paula 

2 thoughts on “Winter Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette”

  1. Paula i love your recipes and pictures. Thank you for continuing your blog with your busy schedule.
    Joyeux Noel et bonne annee.

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