Winter Salad Inspiration {recipe: Caesar Wedge Salad with Bacon}

Caesar Wedge Salad

Before kale was cool, before it was made into cheesy chips or added to smoothies, it grew in my mother’s garden when I was a child. This curly-leafed winter green lived under the snow all winter long, and aside from the alfalfa seeds we sprouted in a jar, was the only fresh salad we ate from November to April.

I was always the one booted out of doors with a bowl and a pair of scissors to retrieve the kale. Looking over our snow-covered garden, with its soft mounds scattered here and there, no one would ever guess that there was life underneath. I would kick away the snow with my boots and dig with my woolen mittens until the bright green stalks came into view.

My mother always had a jar of poppyseed vinaigrette prepped to dress our kale, and that combination remains a favorite of mine. It was our daily salad and much-needed vitamin C boost during the long Yukon winters.

After having the luxury of gorgeous Mexican produce at my fingertips for two weeks this past February, it was hard to get excited about the selection of salad greens upon my return home. Of course that was just wimpy of me, as I know winter salads can be vibrant and delicious – they just take a little more effort than their lazy summer counterparts.

So I challenged myself to create a salad a day. I stocked up on winter greens like endive, Napa cabbage and kale. I selected my favorite seasonal vegetables like beets, avocados and red onion. Winter citrus and a few nuts and seeds rounded out my ingredients of choice and suddenly, eating fresh in Canada’s coldest month was looking pretty good.

I posted a few salads on Instagram which made it easy for me to have a few to show you today and hopefully inspire you. Finally, I’m sharing a super easy salad I fixed for a recent Sunday dinner – the Caesar wedge.

kale & blood orange salad

It’s the kale salad with poppyseed vinaigrette mentioned above, livened up with diced red onion and segments of blood oranges. Tip: toss your kale salad a full five minutes before you plan to serve it. The extra time will soften the tough green and ‘marinade’ it, if you will.

citrus avocado salad

Roasted yellow beets (here’s how I roast them) are paired with avocado, grapefruit and red onion for a salad that hints at spring with its soft color palette, but offers flavors that are decidedly wintery.

photo-4

I had to recreate my beet & orzo salad with celery and walnuts, only I left off the feta cheese this time. Consider this the vegan version of a winter pasta salad.

smoked salmon and fennel salad

It’s hard to go wrong when you begin a salad with a bed of smoked salmon. From there, I tossed a combination of shaved fennel, cucumber, endive, celery or radish (whatever I have on hand that day) together with lemon juice, olive oil and a handful of fresh dill. I piled it high on the salmon and finished with a sprinkling of sea salt. Crouton optional, but recommended.

Kale Cobb Salad

The Cobb salad is hardly anything new, but the Kale Cobb is a fun twist on a classic. I loved the contrast between the hearty winter green and the soft egg and avocado. I tend to slosh salads like this (chef salad, etc) with any dressing I have around, but it’s particularly nice paired with a homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.

Caesar Wedge Salad

I’ve made my Caesar salads with both a creamy dressing and a oil and vinegar dressing. I’ve added and taken away the controversial anchovy addition. I’ve even grilled my Caesar salad, but for a recent Sunday dinner with guests, I served it up in a different manner altogether. Pictured at the top of the post, may I introduce you to the Caesar wedge salad.

The Caesar wedge is ever so simple, and every component can be prepared in advance, making it a good candidate for Sunday dinner. Crisp hearts of romaine are split down the middle, arranged on a platter, and garnished with the usual suspects: bacon and Parmesan cheese. A drizzle of dressing and a crack of fresh pepper finishes the salad off.

Tips:

  • I like to bake my bacon to ensure that it stays flat (it’s prettier for presentation) and crisps up evenly so that it shatters when cut into. Chewy bacon would only be awkward on this salad.
  • Croutons would only roll off the top of the wedge and bounce on the floor, so I leave them off the salad altogether. Besides, they aren’t really missed.
  • You can use any Caesar dressing you like for the salad, but if you want to make your own, here are two versions: mine is quick, mild, and egg-less; Casey’s is a little bolder with Dijon and white balsamic vinegar coming into play.
  • If possible, use Parmesan from a block (not pre-grated), the freshest pepper around, and serve the finished salad with lemon wedges for a little extra tang.

Caesar Wedge Salad with Bacon & Parmesan
4.5 from 2 reviews
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Recipe type: Salad
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 6
A fun twist on the standard Caesar salad, this wedge version takes just minutes to assemble and present. All components can be prepared ahead of time.
Ingredients
  • 3 Romaine lettuce hearts
  • 6 strips of cooked bacon (baked, to keep it flat)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Caesar dressing
  • fresh black pepper
  • lemon wedges, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Slice Romaine hearts in half lengthwise and rinse under cold water. Drain upside down for a few minutes, then wrap in a large kitchen towel and press lightly to remove as much water as possible.
  2. Arrange Romaine hearts on a platter and top with a tablespoon of dressing. Add bacon strips to the top of each six wedges and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  3. Just before serving, drizzle with remaining Caesar dressing and a sprinkling of fresh black pepper. Top with more cheese, if desired.
  4. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges.

 

How do you like to prepare a winter salad?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. We (my kids and I) have been eating salads most days since right after Christmas. I think that our bodies were requesting a do-over :-) We like to add a lot of seeds to ours, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, it seems to keep us full for long periods of time. I have also started using nut based dressings (nut milk, nuts such as cashews or walnuts, and seasonings all blended together), which are delicious and something I had never heard of until recently.

    Was your kale in a cold frame? Or was it really just buried in the snow?
    Heather’s last post: Summer CSA no longer

    • I haven’t tried the nut-based dressings but it makes a lot of sense.

      Our kale grew in the fall right in the garden, then got snowed under as winter hit. It stayed frozen, and of course wilted when we harvested it. But it still tasted great!

  2. “It’s hard to go wrong when you begin a salad with a bed of smoked salmon.” – indeed!

    Thanks for the inspiration, Aimee. It isn’t easy for me to get inspired by salads in the Winter, but that’s a shame because they really are simple, healthy, goodness. You’ve given me some new ideas here and you’ve got my stomach rumbling for greens and veggies, which at 6 in the morning as I sit here sipping my coffee is no small accomplishment! :-)

    Off to pin and make a grocery list! Thanks, friend!

    • Thanks for the comment, Kara! I’ve been thinking about you and your baby steps into GF. Do you need me to recommend any blogs or resources? Hope it’s going well..

  3. Just have to say – your kale cobb salad looks awesome! And I also agree about the salmon…start as you mean to go on…
    Oliver Denton’s last post: Monster infused pulled pork with Coca-Cola BBQ sauce

  4. I want one of each, but I’ll start with the kale salad! They all look great!

  5. You had me at bacon! Those wedge salads look great!
    Kevin @ Closet Cooking’s last post: Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

  6. That salmon salad looks fantastic! I may have to try it out sometime soon.
    The kale from when you were growing up, it didn’t wilt in the cold? This is good to know! SW Ontario and Manitoba winters a little bit milder than Yukon, so I should be good if it was good for you!
    Amie’s last post: Friday Finds: A Colourful Winter Week

    • Our kale grew in the fall right in the garden, then got snowed under as winter hit. It stayed frozen, and of course wilted when we harvested it. But it still tasted great.

  7. Great salad ideas!
    Maria’s last post: Garlic Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn {GIVEAWAY}

  8. What gorgeous salads!!
    Jenny Flake’s last post: Slow Cooker Creamy Chipotle Chicken Tortellini

  9. what a great way to eat greens! i love your salad ideas – my favorite is the one with long strips of bacon on top :) hehe
    Julie @ Table for Two’s last post: Boozy Truffles

  10. I LOVE these ideas. And can I please have all that bacon? Coo, coo.
    Bev @ Bev Cooks’s last post: Southwest Breakfast Stromboli

  11. That Caesar salad is gorgeous. They all are! I love the idea to challenge yourself to a seasonal salad a day in the middle of winter. Thank you for the inspiration!
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty’s last post: Sunbutter Hummus

  12. What an amazing selection of Salads!! I love that Cesar!

  13. Yum! I love salads and this post makes me really really hungry.
    Allison’s last post: Honey Yogurt Butter

  14. Aimee,
    I can’t choose which one to start with. I’ve got smoked salmon, and that looks so yummy, but the greens in the house (my chard gave up in the bitter cold of January) are Romaine today, so perhaps the Caesar.
    I too love to bake bacon–less mess, easier, just as delicious.

    Thanks!
    kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts’s last post: Panade, with Swiss Chard, Onion, and Cheddar Sausage

  15. I’m always at such a loss for salads in the winter and we get stuck in such a rut. I love all this inspiration! They all look delish!
    Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity’s last post: Grapefruit Smoothies

    • Cheri, I often get stuck in a rut with winter salads too. I think we all do….but there’s no reason why winter salads can’t be gorgeous too.

  16. bacon bacon bacon. That one is going on the menu tonight!

  17. I love wedge salads! I’ve never had one with romaine before though. The bacon on this sounds amazing!
    Tanya’s last post: The Best WordPress Anti-Spam Plugins for 2012-2013

  18. Love all of your salad ideas…especially the one with the bacon :)

  19. Holy heavens, what a lineup! I just want to dive into those crunchy wedges with bacon. Yum!
    Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste’s last post: Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

  20. Oh they are all so gorgeous! Such great ways to get your greens (…and reds and oranges.)
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective’s last post: Butter Chicken Sliders + Big Land O’Lakes Giveaway

  21. Stephchows says:

    So much beautiful inspiration! And seriously? Kale grows through the winter and you can harvest it!? How didn’t I know this!

  22. This is the coolest looking salad I’ve seen! And hey, anything with bacon is better, right? Can’t wait to try it!
    Whitney @ The Newlywed Chefs’s last post: Cheddar Biscuits

  23. I suddenly want avocado… Especially after seeing that Cobb salad. I’m working on the perfect mango avocado salad right now. Almost there – just have to tweak the dressing!

  24. Aimee, I loved hearing about how you went out and got the kale in the winter – I never knew about that either!
    Salads for me are a bit of an effort, as I always lean towards wanting to eat starchy foods, so it’s a challenge to change them up to please my palate. Thanks for some new ideas!
    Marian (Sweetopia)’s last post: Decorated Car Cookies {Transportation Cookies}

  25. Love the bacon slice on the romaine. Gorgeous. I want that grapefruit avocado salad for lunch. The fennel and salmon, too. Do you deliver?
    Shaina’s last post: A Menu for Eating Well and Spending Less

  26. This is a wonderful round-up of salads. I eat a lot of them and am always looking for new and creative ideas to spice them up. I like the idea of baking bacon in the oven…I haven’t tried it but need to soon!

  27. I can’t decide which of those is my favorite – but because the ceasar has bacon on it- I think its a win. But the beets salad just punched me in the stomach, basically I need to make it. Just lovely.
    Megan {Country Cleaver}’s last post: Pear Almond Cake with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream

  28. I just love all of the salads you mentioned – I agree, eating local in the winter is suddenly looking very good!
    Tracy’s last post: Blackberry and White Chocolate Scones

  29. Now this is what I call salad perfection!

  30. Hello – Haven’t yet tried the Caesar, but the kale salad was ab-fab. Maybe it might have been the spring weather yesterday… but I really think it your poppyseed dressing and the deep green crunch that put a little hop in our steps after Sunday supper! Thanks : )

  31. What’s this?! Kale grows under snow? In the Yukon?!! That means it must work in northern Alberta too! Do you have to get special seeds? How does this work? I WANT TO KNOW!!! We’re buried in 3 feet of snow and my garden and fresh lettuce salads are a long way off…I would LOVE to try kale if it indeed grows in this brutal cold!
    Lois’s last post: “Our” Christmas Day

  32. It’s a handsome looking salad, but there’s nothing about it besides the romaine parmesan that is Caesar-esque. Without the egg and anchovies, why not make up a name, or call it an Octavian, a Brutus, or an Aimee, anything but a Caesar salad. Some things are iconic for their purity of ingredients, and the Casesar salad is one of them.

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