Holiday Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

I’m most excited about how easy this cranberry vinaigrette is to make. Who would think that tart, raw cranberries would taste so good after a quick blend in a food processor?

I used a mixture of sweet, tangy and pungent flavors; balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard and fresh squeezed orange juice to name a few; none of which are over bearing; blended together to perfection.

Why is this a Holiday Salad? First, a cranberry dressing screams “tis the season”! Second, the outer layers of butter lettuce make a beautiful presentation border that resembles a wreath. (This is completely optional) And third, candied walnuts, seasonal oranges, creamy mozzarella cheese and juicy pomegranates create a festive combination of complimenting flavors that will make a perfect start to your holiday dinners.

If you don’t have pomegranates on hand you can substitute with fresh strawberries or dried cherries. Tangerines can be used in place of oranges, and will work best if seedless. Candied walnuts sounds intimidating to make however, it is super easy. WARNING- you may eat them all before they enter your salad! Radicchio is used as one of the leafy vegetables, it adds a nice color contrast and gives a slightly bitter taste. You may not recognize it whole but you’ve had them in your mixed greens. Enjoy the season for great food and good company!

P.S. You can make any day a holiday and savor this salad all year long!

Holiday Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

This salad makes a beautiful presentation for the holidays, the mixture of sweet, savory and tart flavors will compliment any dish; holiday or not, this will be a favorite that you love to make any time of year!

Ingredients

1 head Butter Lettuce
5 oz Baby Spinach (about 4 large handfuls)
½ head small Radicchio, very thinly sliced
2 large Oranges, peel and white piths removed, sliced into wedges
½ cup Pomegranate Seeds (about 1 Pomegranate)
½ pound Fresh Mozzarella Ciliegine Style (Cherry Size Balls), drained
1 cup Walnut Halves
2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Water

Cranberry Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons chopped Shallots
¾ cup fresh Cranberries
1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed Orange Juice
¾ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Preparation

Prepare Candied Walnuts: Heat 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a medium non-stick skillet on medium-high heat and stir until mixture starts to simmer, about 30 seconds or less. Add walnut halves and stir until walnuts are coated with sugar mixture and continue to stir until walnuts are caramelized and golden brown, about 2-3 minutes (lower heat if walnuts begin to smoke). Immediately transfer walnuts to a dish in a single layer and set aside.

Prepare Cranberry Vinaigrette: Place shallots in food processor and pulse, add cranberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, orange juice and pulse. Slowly pour olive oil from top of food processor while mixing. Scrape down side and mix until well combined and smooth. Season with fresh ground sea salt and black pepper to taste. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

Assemble Salad: Remove outer layers of butter lettuce and arrange around the edges of a square or round platter to resemble a wreath. (Optional) Tear remaining lettuce into pieces, toss with spinach and radicchio and place in the center of the platter. Sprinkle salad with pomegranate seeds then top with oranges, candied walnuts and mozzarella cheese.  Serve with Cranberry Vinaigrette.

Serves 4-6

*Candied walnuts may be prepared up to two days ahead and stored in a Ziploc bag or sealed container at room temperature.

*Cranberry Vinaigrette may be prepared, covered and refrigerated for up to three days.

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