A Winter Salad

For all my fellow Toronto readers…..I hope your staying warm in this crazy weather. Snow day anyone? I wish snow days applied to the restaurant realm, but luckily for me I have Wednesdays off.

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, not intentional I swear – but let me tell you, being and executive chef has it’s life challenges and sometimes after work, you are so dead tired that bed becomes the only option.

I’ve started the seasonal menu changes, plus I’ve been working on a special side project so when I’m not sleeping, my brain is in overdrive.

Anyways, today I’m here with a great recipe, especially for this snowy day as it brings a sense of brightness.

{Enter A Winter Salad!}

I’ll be honest, I actually hate salads. I think this stems from my deep hatred towards the really lame side salads that most restaurants serve. It really irks me, clearly. Or the even more lame, field salad with strawberry’s, feta and balsamic….in February. The shame.

So whenever I choose to make a salad, I really need to love it. I believe there are ways to embrace a salad in any season, especially even in a snow storm.

I really do believe in eating with the season, to a certain extent of course. From a nutritional standpoint alone, eating with the season offers a profound amount of nutrition, nutrition provided from the natural elements of nature. Eating fully raw meals in the winter, isn’t something I typically enjoy so when it comes to salad, it’s important to embrace different ways of pulling the season onto the plate.

Combining, elements of raw with cooked and marinated with roasted helps to make a salad in the winter more whole, complete and comforting.

Crunch: roasted cashews
Soft: Marinated kale
Creamy: Ginger Dressing
Sweet: chestnuts, roasted fennel
Savory: Brussels
Bitter: Kale
Tart (Sour): pickled onion

Kale salad 1

Winter Kale Salad
Serves 4
~Paleo, Vegan

For the Pickled Onions
1 red onions, thinly sliced on a mandolin
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp maple syrup

For The Roasted Brussels and Fennel
2 cups Brussels, halved
½ head of fennel, sliced into wedges
2 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt and Cracked black pepper

For the Ginger Vinaigrette  (250ml)
1 ½ “ piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup cold pressed olive oil

1 head black kale, stems removed and cut into thin ribbons
¾ (1 packet) chestnuts
1/3 cup roasted cashews


  1. For the Pickled Onion: In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, water, salt and maple syrup. Pour the mixture over the sliced onions in a sealed container. Let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes, these will last stored in the fridge for 2 weeks.
  2. For the Roasted Vegetables: preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the halved Brussels and sliced fennel directly on a baking sheet with the 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss together, and roast with the Brussels cut side up, for 15-20 minutes, until crisp.
  3. For the Vinaigrette: Place all ingredients except the oil into a bender, blend on high speed and stream in the olive oil and continue to blend until emulsified.
  4. In a large bowl, pour 5 Tbsp of dressing over the thinly cut kale. Use your hands and really massage the dressing into the kale. This will help to marinate and tenderize the kale, along with making it more digestible.
  5. Assembly: Spread the kale out on a large platter; assemble the roasted fennel to one side, along with the pickled onion. Scatter the Brussels, chestnuts and cashews over your dish and serve.

Kale salad 2

The marinated kale, and roasted vegetables provide a sense of comfort even while eating a salad, which is what you want from any plant based dish.

If you’d like to pair this with a protein, I’d suggest salmon or rainbow trout – I richness of the fish would be a great choice for the elements in this salad. Plus it would provide an additional source of protein and brain fueling fats.

Stay warm guys, have a great Wednesday.

~Chef Steph

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