One of the tasks I was given for Christmas was to make a salad. I wanted to do something festive, but I also wanted it to be something easy. Searching for ideas, I became inspired by a recipe for Christmas Salad at Taste of Home:
A relatively simple salad of mixed greens, what makes this salad is the Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing. As Wikipedia tells us:
Cranberries are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces (see cultivation and uses below). Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, jam and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. Cranberry sauce is regarded an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and someEuropean winter festivals….
Usually cranberries as fruit are cooked into a compote or jelly, known as cranberry sauce. Such preparations are traditionally served with roast turkey, as a staple of English Christmas dinners, and the Canadian and US holiday Thanksgiving. The berry is also used in baking (muffins, scones and cakes). Less commonly, innovative cooks use cranberries to add tartness to savory dishes such as soups and stews.
Cranberries are a generally nutritious food:
Raw cranberries are a source of polyphenol antioxidants, phytochemicals under active research for possible benefits to the cardiovascular system and immune system, and as anti-cancer agents, such as in isolated prostate cancer cells. Although polyphenols have antioxidant effects in vitro, they can act as pro-oxidants in others.[clarification needed] In addition, it is uncertain whether polyphenols and flavonoids account for the benefits of diets rich in plant-derived foods.
Cranberry juice contains a high molecular weight non-dializable material that might inhibit formation of plaque by Streptococcus mutans pathogens that cause tooth decay. Cranberry juice components also may possibly influence formation of kidney stones.
Using the Taste of Home recipe as springboard, I added no-sugar-added “lite” mandarin oranges and toasted pecans to the salad. I also adjusted the delectable vinaigrette to suit our own tastes. It is the vinaigrette that really makes this salad, and it would also be delicious as a marinade or as a seasoning for pork, chicken, or turkey. I enjoyed some of the leftover salad the next day for my lunch: I simply added some diced ham and some shredded Swiss cheese to it.
So the next time you want to make a festive salad, give this Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette a try — never, in your wildest Dreams, would you have thought that anything so simple could be so yummy! (Go on, take 4 and 1/2 minutes out of your day and enjoy this beautiful song — you know you want to!)
Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette (Serves 12 to 14)
For the Vinaigrette:
- Approximately 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
- 2 green onions, sliced
- Equivalent of 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite artificial sweetener
- A squirt of Dijon mustard (NOTE: I did not have Dijon mustard, so I used a spoonful of light mayo, a squirt of yellow mustard, and a wee bit of horseradish)
- Salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
- Dried/powdered sage to taste (about 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
For the salad:
- 10 ounces mixed salad greens (I used an organic spring mix)
- 1 can no-sugar-added “lite” mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 can water chestnuts, drained (I sliced them in half, also)
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- Toasted pecans (or walnuts) to taste (about 1/2 cup or so)
- Sprinkling of Parmesan cheese (Vegetarians: Use a vegetarian Parmesan or substitute another kind of cheese)
- In a blender or food processor, process all the vinaigrette ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil. Processing constantly, pour the olive oil into the dressing ingredients in a steady stream. Taste dressing and adjust seasonings as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Place salad greens in a large bowl. (I used two bowls so that I would have plenty of room to toss the salad.) Add in chopped red pepper, mandarin oranges, and toasted pecans (or walnuts). Sprinkle lightly with cheese. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Salad dressing will thicken in the refrigerator, so remove it from the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before serving. Ditto salad, to remove the chill from the ‘fridge.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
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