I wanted to make the white salad this week- the stand-out favorite from my Fall 20/20 Collection (recipe and my seasonal swaps at the bottom of the post). But it’s winter I wanted something that fit the season- produce and temperature outside (it’s a bit blustery this week). So I rolled up my sleeves to make some super simple adjustments to turn a favorite recipe into something that fit the day.
Here’s a quick checklist that will walk you through a few changes without wrecking your favorite food:
1. Seasonal Produce Swap
This is one of the easiest and best flavor choices you can make. It means putting down those grapes that were flown in from Chile, and picking up an orange that was just picked in Florida, California, or within driving distance from where you are. Even if you live in Kentucky, those oranges that are having their moment right now (and even if you buy them at Costco instead of a farmers market, they are still better than globe-trotting grapes).
For The White Salad, I knew the cauliflower would still be fantastic, but I opted to swap apples for pears. Apples keep better through the winter than pears, and I had some on hand. (Hey, I just answered a question about how to store apples in my weekly newsletter. Are you getting it yet? Sign up here.) I also voted for lemons over limes, since my lemon tree is heavy with fruit right now.
2. Fat or Oil Swap
You can make a big flavor shift (and add or subtract richness) from the fat or oil you use in cooking. Higher saturated fat makes food feel really filling and rich, but it’s also heavy. Coconut oil, sesame, walnut, butter, and olive oil all have big flavor that is fun to play with. In simple preparations like sauteeing, roasting or a salad dressing, it’s easy to swap one fat for another and give food a whole need flavor.
With The White Salad, I decided to play with a bit of butter in lieu of coconut oil since I wanted something that tasted cozy.
3. Preparation or Cooking
Texture, consistency, and flavor change dramatically with cooking styles. Think about the difference between a carrot that’s been steamed, roasted, grilled, and left raw. Totally different, right? Same story for almost all food. Can you pan fry instead of broiling? Maybe slow cook and rest the food instead of a simple 30-minute stir together? It’s an easy way to change things up.
For The White Salad, I opted to roast the salad instead of keeping it raw, it was warm and inviting and really pumped up the sweetness of the apple as the juices released from the fruit.
Three quick choices that didn’t take a lot of thinking or adjustments turned one of my favorite fall salads into something that just right for a cold winter night.
Try the one or all three and suddenly you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to shift a recipe to your liking and the season you’re cooking in- just like a kitchen natural.
Quick note, I left the chicken out of my winter version since that’s what I was feeling, but you can leave it in, and if you roast as I did, you can simply dice raw chicken in and roast the whole lot together.
The White Salad/ Winter White Salad
20 minutes (including chopping time, less if using the food processor)
This is a personal, adaptable salad. If you like chicken, dial it up. If you want it vegetarian, kick it out. But please, keep the cauliflower and pears in even in reduced amounts. They add all the texture that this unconventional chicken salad thrives on. However, the dressing and fruit vegetable mix is just lovely on their own. If you play it like me, you can’t bear to make this salad without listening to the “The White Room” at the same time. I swear it tastes better that way.
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted if solid (2 T. butter since I wasn’t adding chicken, I needed less dressing)
Juice of 1 lime (lemon)
1 teaspoon grated ginger (just eyeball it)
1 teaspoon salt
½ lb. cooked chicken, chopped (optional)
1-3 cups cauliflower, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small pears, finely chopped (apples)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
Whisk dressing together, add salad ingredients and toss. Taste for seasonings and serve. (Preheat oven to 425 degrees while preparing the salad. I like to put the butter on the pan in the warm oven to melt, then pulling it out and adding all ingredients together in a pile and tossing it with my hands or tongs since the baking sheet isn’t too hot if you don’t leave it in for long. Roast for 10-15 minutes and serve with an extra squeeze of lemon.)
- If you care less about careful chopping by hand, pulse the ingredients in the food processor. Start with the shallots and cauliflower, pulsing to get them small, then add in the pears, and finally the chicken. Pulse only to avoid creating salad mush. Remove and toss with dressing.
- Add-ins: pomegranate seeds, golden raisins, almonds, pistachios, or sesame seeds are all quite good. (I opt for walnuts or pecans in winter since they’ve got that warming winter vibe that’s so good with the roasted winter version of this salad.)
Try it out the tips to modify one of your favorites this week, and tell me what you’re planning below.
Want to learn more about how to swap around recipes and get hip to the seasons? Get the Winter 20/20, it’s 20+ master recipes with only 20 seasonal ingredients.