An Early Winter Salad at Sooke Harbour House

Sooke Harbour House Head Chef Robin Jackson created this immaculate Early Winter Salad out of ingredients from around the hotel property and nearby region. Photos by Deanna Ladret

In a typical late fall scenario at a big-chain grocery store, shoppers are faced with nothing but imported produce and the inevitable prospect of another rainy trudge home with a 10-kilo sack of root vegetables over each shoulder. Hearty autumn stews are wonderful in their own rite, but when dreaming of fresh salad (with summer so very far away), it’s tempting to reach for the overpriced box of Cali arugula or suspiciously large strawberries. Is there any way to assemble a fresh salad during the winter months while still buying local? Or must we all survive on cabbage––a person can only eat so much coleslaw in a week, after all––until the frost lifts?

Well, a visit to the Sooke Harbour House on Whiffen Spit Beach will put any November-induced salad anxiety to rest. Strolling through the gardens two days after the season’s first snowfall revealed plenty of greens, herbs, and flowers still surviving––even thriving––despite the chilly weather.

Winter salads are certainly possible, assures Dr. Sinclair Philip, owner and operator of the hotel with wife Frederique since 1979. Of course, it’s easy for him to say. Anyone could live for years in that garden without ever having to step off the property, especially if they had the key to the wine cellar. But not everyone has a yard or enough room for a cold frame on their apartment balcony. Nor are most people able to recognize what’s edible from what’s dangerously not in the wild. Luckily, we do have the Philip family & co., who were pioneering the backyard gourmet food movement decades before the birth of the word “locavore”.

Sooke Harbour House Head Chef Robin Jackson created this immaculate Early Winter Salad out of ingredients from around the hotel property and nearby region. When shopping, check the Winter Farmers’ Market ( and stores that deal with local growers like Niagara Grocery & The Fairfield Market, and The Root Cellar. Also visit The Whole Beast or Ottavio’s for cured meats and local cheeses.  Double check the yard, too…today’s weeds in the lane way could be tonight’s amuse bouche!

– By Deanna Ladret


Recipe: Early Winter Salad courtesy of Sooke Harbour House

An early winter salad of Belgian endive, shaved fennel bulb, Metchosin apples and wild winter herbs. Dressed with an apple cider, maple and stone ground mustard vinaigrette, and garnished with shaved house cured Coppa, flax seed candied walnuts, Ragley Farm icicle beets and toasted pumpkin seed oil. (Preparation for 6 People)




1 Cup Sunflower seed oil

2oz Apple cider vinegar

2oz Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp. Stone ground mustard

1 Medium Shallot (Minced)

1 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley

Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Flaxseed, Candied Walnuts:

1 Cup whole walnut

2 Tbsps. of flax seeds

½ Cup icing sugar

¼ Tsp. Sea salt

1 Tbsp. of cold water



1 Fennel bulb shaved paper thin on a mandolin or with a sharp knife.

2 Medium red beets (Cooked, sliced and peeled)

1 Large Metchosin apple

½ Head of radicchio (Cut into thin ribbons)

1oz Toasted Pumpkinseed oil

12 Paper thin slices of Coppa or Prosciutto

A handful of wild herbs like chickweed, Miner’s lettuce, oxeye daisy greens and peppercress

3 Heads of Belgian Endives (Leaves removed individually)



In a large bowl with a whisk start by adding the stone ground mustard, minced shallot, maple syrup and the parsley. Whisk together thoroughly, then add chopped parsley and apple cider vinegar and continue to whisk. Slowly drizzle in the sunflower seed oil while whisking at an even rate, Drizzle slowly in an even stream to emulsify your vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until you plan to use your vinaigrette. If using a food processor add the ingredients in the same order as above.

Flaxseed, Candied Walnuts:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray it with spray oil. In a bowl combine icing sugar, cold water and mix into a paste. Add flaxseeds and mix thoroughly. Add walnuts and mix them in the paste to coat all of the nuts. Place glazed nuts on baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Bake at 350° F for approx. 10 minutes or until the nuts have stopped bubbling and are not over toasted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool all the way before using.


In a large bowl combine shaved fennel bulb, radicchio ribbons, sliced Metchosin apple, Belgian endive leaves and dress heavily with the vinaigrette. Add Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Presenting Your Winter Salad

Put a nice helping of the dressed, seasoned, tossed salad on the center of a plate, garnish with shaved Coppa, candied flaxseed walnuts, wild winter herbs and arrange cooked beets around the plate. Drizzle more of the vinaigrette around the outside of the plate then drizzle very lightly with toasted pumpkin seed oil.



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