7 Warm Vegetarian Salad Ideas for the Winter
Salads aren’t just a summer food. They can be fantastically satisfying in the winter too. Healthy, affordable and easy to make for work, salads are a favourite for health-conscious office employees who want to look and feel great all year round. Light and refreshing, a salad can be a much better alternative to a sandwich or a heavy bowl of pasta. It’s the sort of meal that won’t weigh you down or have your blood sugar spiking and dipping before an important meeting. And for the meat-free diet, they’re absolutely perfect for your lunchbox.
But when the weather’s cold outside, most of us look for ways to warm up come lunchtime. Warm vegetarian salads can be a great way to fix your hot food cravings. Here are 7 hot salad ideas to inspire you.
1. Warm apple salad
This is one of the easiest warm vegetarian salads you can make for lunch or dinner. If your office has a kitchen, you can reheat the apples in the microwave or in a pan. Of course, prepping everything at home will make it so much more convenient if you’re eating on the go. A bed of watercress is the ideal pairing for fruits such as apples, and a tangy, tart apple cider vinaigrette is the perfect way to inject even more flavour.
A final flourish for your salad is some toasted almonds. They’ll add a lovely taste and texture, and also a sense of winter goodness. Or for something salty that can cut through the sweetness, throw in a few chunks of your favourite cheese. Smoked gouda is winning combo, as is a medium cheddar.
2. Halloumi, carrot and orange salad
This is the ultimate winter comfort food. If you’re looking for a dish that delivers substance, beautiful colours, depth of flavour and interesting textures, this salad has it all. It’s so beautiful and appealing in fact that it can be made for a fancy dinner party starter. For lunch, prepare a bed of watercress or rocket and toss with juicy orange segments. Heat up thinly sliced carrots and halloumi in a pan and combine when you’re ready to serve.
For the dressing (essential for adding moisture), a combination of mustard, honey, vinegar and oil will help you set off those lovely flavours. Finish with some black pepper and you’ll have all the heat you need for cold days at work.
3. Warm potato salad
One of the best hot salad ideas for those who like to feel full after a meal. If leafy greens aren’t enough to fuel your day, a warm potato salad can be the perfect carb fix. Not only is this dish mouthwateringly tasty, but it’s also extremely easy to make. And because the potatoes are boiled and not roasted or fried in oil, they’re a healthier alternative to other potato-based lunches.
Simply boil some baby new potatoes, drain and toss together with your favourite salad leaves, some spring onion, lemon juice and mustard. This can be easily heated up in the microwave for work kitchens without a hob.
4. Noodle salad with tofu
Asian salads are usually packed full of flavour, spice and interesting yin and yang ingredients. From the sharpness of limes and kaffir leaves to the heat of chilli and the saltiness of soy, there’s so much going on. That’s what makes them such a great alternative to a boring ham sandwich. They’re also super healthy and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Noodle salads chill well in the fridge, but if you want to warm it up you can toss in some pan-fried tofu pieces.
Tofu is a wonderful alternative to meat, as it’s a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. You’ll also get a good serving of iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.
5. Root vegetable fattoush
Fattoush is a Middle Eastern salad, originally from Lebanon. It is made from toasted or fried pieces of flatbread and combined with mixed greens and other vegetables, such as radishes and tomatoes. It’s the sort of salad that has the power to warm you up or cool you down, making it lovely at any time of year. In the winter, you’ll want to make sure the flatbread is heated well and the salad is at room temperature (not too over-chilled). If you’re preparing this salad for work, it could be an idea to take your lunchbox out of the fridge half an hour before eating.
Adding roasted root vegetables is a great way of making it even more winter-friendly. Veggies such as turnips, parsnips and swede will add even more flavours and textures to your dish and will pair well with the bread.
6. Italian panzanella
Another great winter salad made with chopped up bread is the panzanella, an Italian favourite. It looks as good as it tastes, with a rainbow of colours from the leafy greens, tomatoes, onions and capers. To turn it into a warming dish to be devoured any time of day, make sure the bread is heated in oil until it’s nice and golden. Then throw in some fried cauliflower chunks for added depth and crunch.
This salad originated from the region of Tuscany, known for its outstanding slow food movement and fantastic wine. If you want to rustle up a dish that impresses guests, this one is a foodie’s salad of choice – and it’s just as great for lunch or dinner.
7. Mushroom and chicory salad
Chicory is the perfect winter veggie, with its main growing season in the UK from November to February. There’s no better time to try it, and a warm chicory salad is a delicious lunchtime or dinner option if you want a healthy salad that’s also hearty and filling. Make a tangy sauce with shallots, vinegar and olive oil, and sautée some mushrooms or even some sliced pears for texture and flavour.
Chicory salads combine well with a number of fruits, so you can make the most of your office fruit basket delivery if you’re making this for lunch.