A Good Winter Salad Recipe

A simple salad made with crunchy lettuces, a garlicky, melted lemon butter dressing, and shaved endives, delicata squash, avocados, and pepitas.

A Good Winter Salad

This is the salad I made on Thursday. My intent was to assemble a big, green salad. It would be the sea of green on the Thanksgiving table. There was no real plan aside from that. No real intent to feature it here. It should be said, I'm terrible about photographing or documenting recipes if I'm cooking or helping out in a social setting (like Thanksgiving). I like to chat with people, and hang out, and sit around doing not a lot, and it's hard to do any of that if I'm jotting notes, measuring ingredients, swapping lenses, moving dishes around, and standing on chairs. This salad, it started as a simple arrangement of beautiful little gem lettuces, shaved endives, and an assortment of ingredients - delicata squash, avocados, pepitas, garlic, butter - that were on my counter in San Francisco at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. Into a bag it all went, for the drive to my parents' house, a hour south, in Los Gatos. Flash forward a few hours, and I'm in the salad zone. As I was tossing the little gems, I kept getting more and more excited about the way the garlickly lemon butter drizzled across the top was perfect on their crunchy, little ruffled edges. There was the tender avocados, and roasted squash...Before I knew it, as everyone was filling their plates and sitting at the dinner table, I grabbed my camera, pushed Wayne out the back door into the remaining natural light, and popped off a few frames.

A Good Winter SaladA Good Winter Salad

These were the old oak trees (top) I'd see every morning when I looked out my bedroom window. The grass at their feet is green in the spring, but I love it when it goes pale gold like this later in the year.

A Good Winter SaladA Good Winter Salad

On the drive down we took a bit of a detour, and drove up, up, up into the foothills above Los Gatos. If you keep driving, and winding, and climbing you eventually have a view of the entire Silicon Valley. We would come up here at night when I was a teenager. You can see from San Francisco to Gilroy and watch the planes in a line on approach to SFO. The night of the Loma Prieta earthquake we drove up and I remember seeing the dramatic swaths of black, revealing the areas with no power. In the shot above, you can see north-west nearly to the ocean here, and as you look to the right (beyond the frame) the valley unfolds north to the city.

If you try the salad, use whatever looks best at your market. My original idea was to do little gems and raw, tender brussels sprout leaves. But the sprouts looked mange, so I moved on to endives. I imagine you could trade in baby romaine here, or shredded kale, or shredded endives and roasted mushrooms...The general idea was to treat the lettuce more as a vegetable than anything else. Salting generously, and drizzling with the garlicky melted butter. Hope you like. xo -h

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A Good Winter Salad

1 delicata squash, seeded and sliced into thin crescents

6-8 heads little gem lettuces, leaves separated
2 endives, shredded

2 medium cloves of garlic
1/8+ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
5 tablespoons melted butter
big squeeze of lemon juice

1/2 cups toasted pepitas
2 ripe avocados, slivered

Heat the oven to 375F, toss the squash crescents with a splash of olive oil, and roast until deeply golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Crush the garlic with the salt into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Work the melted butter into the garlic paste, and finish with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Taste and add more salt if needed.

When you're ready to serve the salad, arrange the little gems and endives in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the butter and give a good toss. Add the pepitas, avocados, and squash, and more dressing, and give another gentle toss. Taste, and add more salt, and more dressing if needed.

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 20 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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I’m so excited about finding your blog! I’ve just been put on a strict vegan diet and so many of your recipes will fit the bill perfectly! Love your writing style, your photos, and so far the recipes I’ve tried have been delicious, and wonderfully received. Thank you, Thank you…

Robin Smith-Debray

I love this salad. The colors are beautiful for winter. Great combination of textures with the creamy avocado and crunchy pepitas! Thanks for sharing!


I didn’t know you grew up in Los Gatos! I used to drive up to those hills when I was a teenager, too. P.S. where is that beautiful bowl from?

HS: Hi Kasey, thanks! It is my mom’s, from 1972, made by a potter in Sun Valley, Idaho, initials G.W….


I grew up on Bohlman Rd.! I was so lucky to have that view from my house. I used to stand at the window and watch the hawks circling the valleys. The best was when the valley would fill with fog, and we’d be above it—or the clear days when we could actually see the top of the golden gate bridge. 🙂

HS: Can you really see the top of the bridge from there? Amazing. I can usually see the hangars at NASA, and SFO….but never the bridge!


This looks heavenly! I’m planning a dinner party, and now serving this. I know my guests will love it. 🙂 tnx xo

Joy Newton

I know that drive in the hills well. Growing up in San Francisco, it was also my go-to, getting-away-from-it-all spot as a teenager! Hard to believe we drove on those dark, winding roads late at night before there were cell phones…


Butter?? In salad dressing?? That is simply genius. I suppose most are comprised of an oil, but I’ve never thought to actually liquefy a delicious solid like butter.


I loved the idea so much that I made the salad last night. I like all the textures, soft lettuce, crunchy veggies and seeds, substantial squash. Could you help me with the butter element? It went from liquid to solid when I dressed the salad; flavor was good but the mouth-feel was more like hard butter. Any suggestions to improve my implementation of the recipe is appreciated!


Butter – lemon dressing? I bet you could pour that over rubber slippers and it would make them taste good 🙂 Great idea!


This salad looks so gorgeous and nourishing. Avocados belong in all salads. 😀


Is there any way you can do a post for travel-friendly recipes? I know I’ll be in airports and on planes a lot in the coming weeks, and I would love packable travel food… the stuff in the airports just doesn’t cut it!

HS: I hear you – there are some spring roll and dumpling wrapper recipes in the archives – both go-tos for me when I travel.


I agree with Christina! I love adding a little butter to dressings. I do this with capers and Dijon to cut all that good acidity. Thanks for sharing!

Phoebe @ Feed Me Phoebe

What are gem lettuces? I’ve never heard of them before. What can be substituted if those aren’t around? I’m assuming I’d need something delicate…?

Hi Lara – you could substitute baby romaine. The little gems, when at their best, are tender, but with plenty of ruffle and structure…they’re a real treat and worth seeking out. Happy hunting!

Lara McGill

What a treat to see where you grew up Heidi 🙂 Beautiful looking salad as always too love xx

Emma Galloway

Just wanted to share what I brought as vegetarian contributions for my family’s Thanksgiving, since they were inspired by you! First, the Pumpkin and Wild Rice Salad that you posted a few years ago. I used Butternut Squash instead of pumpkin. I prefer, though, to call this dish a compote instead of a salad. It is delicious hot, but I served it room temp for Thanksgiving. Secondly, I invented a Kale Salad with crispy shallots, pecorino cheese, and toasted pine nuts, and a very lemony, garlicky, olive oil dressing. I love this was of contributing to the celebrations of omnivores, as it insures I will have a satisfying meal, myself, and also stimulates their interest in veggies.

HS: Love hearing this Abbey – happy holidays to you, and thanks for sharing.


Gorgeous. I shall save this for my Winter time. Don’t toasted pepitas just belong in everything, always? I think so.
Heidi xo

Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

Sounds like a good salad to me, will have to give it a try! Thanks!


H…. Thank you for this new treasure. We had so many veggies on Thanksgiving a salad didn’t make the table. BUT my 7 yr old and I can’t go a day without a tasty one! My whole family will love this too …this new one hits the table tonight!!! Millie grazie.


Beautiful Heidi!
I just knew you were a South Bay Girl!


That garlicky butter on the gems is a great idea- the leaves would be firm enough to take it.


We just spent a month in San Ramon, ending up in San Fransisco for more than 8 times. It is really magical, specially the mornings and then again during the sunsets. Coming back to the salad, most kitchen accidents are the tastiest ones, don’t you agree?


Ooh I’ve never heard of butter being used as a salad dressing before, but sounds delicious! Would love to try it with ghee too.


It’s wonderful that you share your life with all of us. I love reading your notes and especially seeing the photos – I feel I know you.
My favorite squash is delacata and will try to grow it in my veggie garden this year. I will make your salad this weekend. Thank you!

Phyllis Steckle

@Mark: From Wikipedia: “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” is a protest song with lyrics by Woody Guthrie detailing the January 28, 1948 crash of a plane near Los Gatos Canyon, 20 miles (32 km) west of Coalinga in Fresno County, California, United States. The crash occurred in Los Gatos Canyon and not in the town of Los Gatos itself, which is in Santa Clara County, approximately 150 miles away.”


I love reading your recipes Heidi, but this little salad (and the story that goes along with it) is a new favorite. I am the same when developing recipes, and always laugh when a “kitchen accident,” (photographed in the fleeting moment between my hands leaving the bowl, and our hunger digging in) ends up completing the scene — completely. Can’t wait to make the salad and THANKS, Heidi! 🙂


Beautiful salad and beautiful pictures!


I love the nostalgic vibe of this post! What a great place to have grown up – so different from the Northeast. This salad sounds delicious. I never would have thought to drizzle garlic butter over lettuce, but now I can’t stop thinking about it…Thanks, Heidi!


You are living my alternate life! 🙂 Thanks again for sharing everything.


Can any US people tell me if this beautiful place is the Los Gatos canyon of Woody Guthrie’s Deportees? (many of us mainly know your country through popular culture- Please excuse my ignorance)


Such beautiful photos! This looks like a delicious salad!

Amy @ Wrapped in Newspaper

A beautiful view of the valley…
thanks for sharing it.


That salad looks so fresh and wonderful… I definitely needed it on my Thanksgiving table 🙂

Laura @ Lauras Baking Talent

looks very healthy and very tasty

Sevimin Askanasi

Lovely salad! Can’t go wrong with garlic and butter! Love the touch of avocados – it just gives lot of creaminess without overdressing the salad!


This salad looks absolutely perfect!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

Looks delicious! Heidi, are you planning to do a post on your Morocco travel recommendations? I would so love to hear your thoughts!

HS: Hi Jill – I keep meaning to, and then get sidetracked! Part of what is tricky is addresses and directions. I will try to pull something together, hopefully sooner rather than later – thanks for your patience!….


We used to live in SF and now live in Los Gatos. Small world! The weather has been especially amazing this past month. We keep wondering when the rain will arrive? We are definitely in need of some salad after a weekend of food.


It looks delicious and the pictures beautifully capture the winter light. A delight. Thank you.

Tabitha Coupe

I’ve never but butter in salad before. And now, I shall.

Lynn @ The Actor's Diet

I find myself in the same situation at party gatherings. The lack of concentration, or the inconvenience to others about dragging out the camera and I always regret it. I love your simple salad. I need to remember those pepitas next time I’m tossing one together.

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)

I serves a big salad with virtually every meal, so always looking for more inspiration. This one looks stunning. And the butter drizzle just so wonderfully decadent.


I would love to see old oak trees every morning out my bedroom window.
I’m sure I would wake-up in a much better mood.
If nothing else, I would be more relaxed for sure, for the simple reason of not having cars honking their horns ten stories below or a view of hundreds of people walking the streets.
I guess I just need to move out-of-town!
Oh, great salad btw 🙂


Love the butter drizzle idea!! Can take in SO many different directions. But I am missing the old Persian soup recipe, I hope you still plan to highlight it 🙂

HS: Next up Leah!


Mmm.. love that this salad is dressed with a garlicky lemon butter!
I think we had a parallel Thanksgiving… I also live in San Francisco but grew up in the hills of Saratoga… so I drove down there to my parents’ house, which I love for all the sounds of crickets and cicadas and the smell of eucalyptus and pine trees! I think I saw a similar vista too, during a hike near their house on Friday morning. The perfect little retreat. (I think I had emailed you previously about whether QuitoQueeto was based off the Quito road in Los Gatos/Saratoga/Campbell, ha!)


After this weekend, it’s definitely time for a salad. Making this one tomorrow.

stacey snacks

Oh, this is the perfect antidote to all the rich food we ate for Thanksgiving. xo

Lynn Russell

I still think you did a wonderful job at photographing the land scape, It is so very tranquil isn’t it?
Stunner of salad with great simple flavors


Gorgeous pics! And I’ve been loving squash in all forms and ways lately. The delicata looks great with the pepitas.

Averie @ Averie Cooks

I love a good salad anytime of year, winter is no exception! I also agree, I hate taking pictures when there are a bunch of hungry people waiting to eat. To me, that’s not exactly what getting together for the holidays is about. I’m glad you shared it though!

Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate

I’m positive butter is exactly what my salads have been missing! I can’t wait to make this.
I’m glad to see photos of your childhood area. So sweet 🙂


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