If you thought salad was only a summer dish, I promise this Winter Salad with Chicken, Root Veggies & Champagne Vinaigrette is sure to change your mind. This salad has a ton of warming flavors with a winter vibe from the rosemary to root veggies with lots of options for you to customize to your family’s needs.
This Winter Salad with Chicken, Root Veggies & Champagne Vinaigrette is a wonderful way to celebrate the bounty of the season with a meal-sized salad FULL of nutrients and valor.
First up is the roasted rosemary balsamic garlic chicken that smells like a night with heavy snow and everyone hanging out by the fire all nicely warm and cozy. This chicken is quick to cook, but you can also plan ahead and prep the chicken a day or two ahead, if you are someone who batch preps your proteins at the start of the week. It makes easy weeknight meals even easier. If you want to this Winter Salad to be a side dish to another protein, simply leave the chicken out.
Next up we have some roasted sweet potatoes that add a nice sweetness and texture and can take the place of croutons any day. You may be surprised with the roasted beets in this salad but the nutty earthy flavor they provide pairs very nicely with the rosemary chicken. A sprinkle of goat cheese and chopped pecans are the perfect final add-ins. The topper is the champagne vinaigrette. It sounds fancy, it tastes fancy, but don’t worry it is very simple to make and I’m pretty sure this will become a staple dressing.
Rosemary is such a fragrant smell that permeates through the entire house making it feel cozy while the chicken is roasting in the oven. If you opt for store bought chicken, no problem. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary to cook for 2-4 minutes on low. Toss the chicken in and coat.
Rosemary has been shown to have some great health benefits that may improve the immune system, contains antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Not only is it an amazing herb but it offers a decadent layer to an exciting winter salad and smells delicious.
Roasted beets offer another layer and flavor of added nutritional value to this salad. Beets contain folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. If you are following a FODMAP diet you can leave the beets out. This is the perfect salad to sub different ingredients to meet your own nutritional goals.
Every salad needs some sort of crunch. Pecans are the winner for this salad but feel free to use cashews, pistachios, or walnuts. If you are nut free, try adding in some raw sprouted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. This salad is meant to give you inspiration and to build the best salad that you’ll enjoy.
Goat cheese is one of those subtle flavors that offers a subtle tang to a salad that puts it over the edge to delicious. This salad doesn’t go overboard with it but a hint of it in the perfect bite is pure bliss.
The champagne vinaigrette that is paired with this Winter Salad gives it an elegant lift. It is tangy with a touch of sweetness and pairs perfectly with the early beets, rosemary chicken, and chopped pecans. I would highly recommend doubling the recipe if you are meal prepping salads for the rest of the week. The star of this dressing is the champagne vinegar but if you don’t have that in your kitchen, you can use white wine vinegar, it will just taste slightly different but delicious, nonetheless.
This Winter Salad with Chicken, Root Veggies & Champagne Vinaigrette gives us those cozy winter feels, so many colors and seasonal ingredients, lots of nutrients and it can be the main course or you can serve it as a side salad. See all the recipe options below.
Recipe Substitutions for Winter Salad with Chicken, Root Veggies & Champagne Vinaigrette
- Chicken – If you do not want or have chicken you can swap in sliced seared steak, salmon or shrimp, and rosemary pork chops are also a great option. Consider going for a store-bought rotisserie chicken to make it extra easy.
- Sweet Potatoes – You can use regular potatoes, wild rice, butternut squash (or other squash), carrots, parsnips, etc
- Beets – Brussels sprouts, string beans, roasted cauliflower, roasted broccoli
- Goat Cheese – Blue cheese, gouda, cheddar, feta would all work nicely, if you are dairy-free swap in your favorite alternative or leave off
- Dressing – If you don’t want to make the champagne vinaigrette, oil and vinegar will work or a fresh squeeze of lemon or store-bought dressing (always check ingredients to be sure if fits your nutritional goals) If you don’t want to use honey you can substitute 1 date soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and dice it before blending. The sweetness of the honey or date helps cut through the acidity.
How to Prep Ahead your Winter Salad with Chicken, Root Veggies & Champagne Vinaigrette
- You can marinate and cook the chicken a day or two ahead or prep the chicken in a larger quantity (try doubling the recipe) at the start of the eek for meal prep, use for this salad, add to scrambles, toss into some bone broth for a quick soup, make chicken salad, etc.
- You can roast the beets and sweet potatoes a day or two ahead, as well. These could also be batch prepped in a larger quantity and used in other recipes throughout the week, two versatile nutrient-dense whole food complex carbs.
- The dressing can be made ahead and will keep in the fridge for upwards of two weeks.
- Consider experimenting with a single serve version of this salad, preheat the oven to 350ºF and place smaller quantities of the chicken, sweet potatoes and beets all on the same sheet pan. Dice the sweet potatoes and beets to the same size so they cook relatively evenly. Check the chicken, first, remove when cooked. Everything should take around the same amount of time. Let the ingredients cool before assembling you salad.
- 1-1.5lb boneless skinless chicken thighs / breast or shredded rotisserie
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 medium beets (diced into approx 1.5-inch cubes)
- 2 small/medium sweet potatoes (diced into approx 1.5-inch cubes)
- ½ cup pecans (roughly chopped) - raw or roasted
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- Sea salt & black pepper to taste
- Large box spring mix, chopped romaine, or spinach
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoon shallots
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- Prep chicken. In a bowl place the chicken, 2 tbsp rosemary, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and two minced cloves of garlic. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour to marinate.
- Cook chicken. When ready to bake, preheat the oven preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and then place the chicken thighs on the pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, checking every five minutes or so after 25. Cooking time will depend on size of chicken thighs. Note: Chicken thighs will not turn white, so determine whether it is done cooking by when the juices are clear. Set aside to cool and cute into a large dice.
- Dice sweet potatoes. Toss in 2 tbs of olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Baked at 350ºF for 30 minutes, give them a toss, then another 20-30 minutes. Cooking time will depend on how large or small you diced. Once cooked let cool.
- Dice beets. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Bake at 350ºF for 30-45 minutes. Cooking time will depend on how large or small you diced. Once cooked set aside until cool.
- Prep the dressing. To get this dressing to turn creamy you’ll either want to use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender. Mix 2 tbsp shallots, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, 1 tbsp lemon juice, ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup champagne vinegar, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp raw honey. Blend for 20-30 seconds this is where the emulsification gives it that creaminess. Store leftovers in an airtight jar for up to two weeks.
- Arrange the salad. On a serving dish, layer the salad greens, top with the chicken, sweet potatoes, beets, top with the pecans and crumbled goat cheese. Just before serving, drizzle with the dressing and toss to mix well and coat the salad in the dressing.
For Whole30 and Paleo leave off cheese
For low FODMAP swap out the beets
For AIP leave out the cheese and nuts