Food / Lunch / Salads / Vegan / Vegetarian / winter favorites

Winter Crunch Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Large serving bowl of winter crunch salad with bright red pomegranate arils.

Tossed in a lip-smacking apple cider vinaigrette, this revitalizing salad will have you craving winter produce like never before.

I am ready for SALADS. It’s safe to say that over the holidays I might have eaten too many cookies, mowed down too much pasta, and consumed my weight in cheese. I regret none of it, mind you. But now my body is just aching for nourishment.

This crunchy tangy salad is a fantastic way to hit the reset button and take advantage of what’s in season. I think winter produce is often looked over. It’s so easy to associate fresh food and vibrant colors with the renewal of spring and the awakening of summer. But it just so happens that the winter’s got some goodies.

Winter crunch salad.

Collage of winter crunch salad ingredients.

This recipe gives you a bowlful of massaged kale (scroll on to see what the deal with “massaged kale” is), shredded Brussels sprouts, chopped radicchio (or red cabbage), crisp apples, toasted sunflower seeds, juicy pomegranate arils, and sweet dried cranberries. All tossed in a zesty easy-to-make apple cider vinaigrette. If you’re looking to add some cheese, feta or goat would be lovely.

What’s the deal with massaged kale?

It sounds pretentious, I know. But it’s crucial. Massaging your kale tenderizes it, taking away the rough mouthfeel that it has naturally. All it takes is a tiny drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and three minutes of you working it with your bare hands. Massaging the oil and salt into the kale leaves makes it edible. And delicious! So don’t skip this step because it sounds like hoodoo hippy shit.

How to make apple cider vinaigrette.

Apple cider vinaigrette.

This stuff is great. It’s better than any vinaigrette you’ll get from a bottle, and we’re using maple syrup as a sweetener here to further add some wintery flare. All you need is the following:

  1. one small shallot
  2. extra virgin olive oil
  3. apple cider vinegar
  4. stone ground mustard (or Dijon)
  5. maple syrup
  6. kosher or sea salt
  7. cracked black pepper

Toss this list of ingredients into a high-powered blender, blend into a smooth concoction, and drizzle away. This stuff keeps in the fridge for about a week. Maybe longer; it’s never lasted longer than that in our house because it’s quick to be consumed.

I hope this salad makes you feel as rejuvenated as I do. It was on repeat in this house for days!

Plate full of winter crunch salad, side view.

If you try this recipe or create your own variation, let me know in the comments! I love connecting with you. Then snap a photo and tag me on Insta @killing__thyme :)

Colorful plate of winter crunch salad.
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5 from 7 votes

Winter Crunch Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Tossed in a lip-smacking apple cider vinaigrette, this revitalizing salad will have you craving winter produce like never before.
Course Lunch, Salad, Side
Cuisine Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword healthy, Pissaladière, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Dana Sandonato


Winter Crunch Salad.

  • 5 cups roughly chopped kale, ribs discarded
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • 6 large Brussels sprouts, shaved
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced I like using honeycrisp or gala
  • 2 cups ribboned/julienned radicchio
  • 2 TBSP toasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate arils (optional)
  • 2 TBSP dried cranberries

Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

  • 1 small shallot (or one lobe of a large shallot), diced
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp stone ground mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp real maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


Winter Crunch Salad.

  • Remove any tough ribs from your kale and roughly chop leaves; rinse under cool water and pat dry with a paper towel or shake well in the strainer. Place the kale into a large serving bowl.
  • Drizzle 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil over the kale; add a pinch of salt. Gently massage the oil and salt into the leaves of the kale for about 2-3 minutes or until the kale seems tender. This is an important step, otherwise the kale will have a rough mouthfeel and will be generally just... yucky.
  • Once the kale is tender, add the shaved Brussels sprouts, apple slices, julienned radicchio, toasted sunflower seeds, pomegranate arils, and dried cranberries to the bowl. Give the salad a toss to distribute the ingredients throughout.
  • Serve the salad with a side of the apple cider vinegar for drizzling. Don't drizzle the vinaigrette over the entire salad if you think you might have leftovers. The leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days without getting soggy, as long as they aren't dressed with the vinaigrette.

Optional cheese additions.

  • If you want to add cheese, crumble some feta or goat over your salad. These cheese go great with these flavors.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

  • Place all of the ingredients except the olive oil into the blender. Start to blend the ingredients and, while blending, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture bit by bit. Taste, and season with more salt and pepper if needed (though it should be fine as is).


The salad should keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days, as long as you don't drizzle the vinaigrette over the entire salad. Save the vinaigrette for individual portions.
The vinaigrette will keep in the fridge for a week, maybe longer, in a sealed container.


  • Michael Hamler
    June 22, 2020 at 10:08 am

    5 stars
    I love people share their experiences and new recipes with others and inspire them to eat healthy foods. I sometimes visit blog, websites and youtube videos for new recipe tips and make for family.

    Thank you for your recipe, I am going to try this.

  • Patricia Bozeman
    January 14, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    5 stars
    Oh this is EVERYTHING I need this week. I’ve never ribboned/shaved radicchio and I am totally obsessing over it. It gives it a nice bitterness but not a huge bite of it. The perfect winter salad. Thank you, Dana!

  • Jenni LeBaron
    January 12, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    5 stars
    What a jewel of a salad – gorgeous pomegranate seeds and cranberries really make this salad extra special – not to mention totally pretty! I am also a huge fan of radicchio and kale together so this is a big win for me. Fantastic winter salad!

  • McKenna
    January 10, 2020 at 9:52 am

    5 stars
    “Massaging” the kale definitely helped. Thanks so much for that tip. The dressing is phenomenal. It’s so easy to get bored if salads so I’m glad to have this one in my rotation. It’s so different from my usual!

  • Gloria
    January 9, 2020 at 8:59 am

    5 stars
    This salad not only looks pretty but is pretty darn nutritious and delicious too. That salad dressing sounds amazing. I think I could use it in lots of delicious ways. It would make a great sub sauce!!

  • Debra
    January 8, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    5 stars
    Absolutely LOVE a salad that has some crunch. I’m trying to include more greens into my diet and this is a perfectly tasty way to do that….with that yummy dressing, this is going to be enjoyed over and over.

  • Olivia
    January 7, 2020 at 8:39 am

    5 stars
    Made a huge bunch of this for my first few days back at work and love it! I’m definitely obsessed with this dressing. I swear I could drink it, lol. Thanks for the refreshing recipe!


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