Mixed greens with cranberry vinaigrette combine fresh, tangy, and sweet flavors to create a festive dish that's free of the top 9 allergens.
Some people might say that there is no room for salad on a Thanksgiving table. After all, there are so many other traditional dishes to enjoy! But I think every meal needs a fresher side, a palate cleanser if you will.
For our Thanksgiving table, we alternate between this festive broccoli crunch salad and this mixed greens with cranberry vinaigrette salad.
I love the combination of the earthy flavor of the greens with the sweet and tangy flavors of mandarin oranges and cranberries.
How to make it
When you're preparing several dishes for a big feast, you need at least one that is super simple to put together. This is that dish!
Start with the greens
I like mixed salad greens for this salad but you could use spring mix, spinach, or even chopped hearts of romaine. Choose what you like and what is available to you.
I used a 5 ounce container of mixed salad greens which comes out to about 8 cups. If your greens aren't washed already, put them in a big bowl covered with water, and then swish them around for a minute or so. The grit should drop to the bottom leaving your greens nice and clean.
I would recommend putting the clean greens in a salad spinner, if you have one, to get them nice and dry. If you don't have a salad spinner, just pat it dry with paper towels.
Add the greens to a large serving bowl.
Add the fruit
Fruit in salad is just so good! Because there are fewer in-season fruit options in November here in Minnesota, I use mandarin oranges, pear slices and dried cranberries. I have also made this with apple slices (honey crisp apples are especially good!)
If you are making this salad in advance, I would recommend waiting to add the pear (or apple) until you are ready to serve as these fruits do tend to brown once they're cut.
I toss half of each of the fruits into the mixed salad greens and then top the salad with the remaining. Otherwise, they all tend to fall to the bottom of the salad.
Make the dressing
I love this dressing! It is sweet and tangy and it makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
To make it, start by re-hydrating the dried cranberries with hot water. After about 30 minutes, they can be pureed with some of the reserved mandarin orange juice. I use my Magic Bullet for this job. It's so easy to set up and clean up when I'm done.
Once you've pureed the cranberries and juice together, add the sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, and mustard and mix well. At this point, you can taste it to see if you want more salt or pepper.
Finally, add in the olive oil and blend well.
I like to keep this in a glass jar until I'm ready to serve the salad. You could even keep it on the side and let your guests decide how much dressing they want. Although, if you do this, you might need to double the dressing recipe!
If you have extra dressing, you can keep it in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks (another reason to make extra!)
This salad is often part of our Thanksgiving menu but, once you've made the dressing, it's easy enough to have every day!
This salad would be delicious topped with leftover turkey from your Thanksgiving feast or a grilled chicken breast.
More Thanksgiving recipes
Mixed Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
For the Salad:
- 8 cups Mixed salad greens (about 5 ounces)
- 1 pear thinly sliced
- 1 small can mandarin oranges drained (reserve the juice for the dressing)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
For the Dressing:
- ¼ cup dried cranberries such as Craisins
- ¼ cup hot water
- ¼ cup orange juice reserved from can of mandarin oranges
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Dash freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon "safe" Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad
- Toss the salad greens, mandarin oranges, and dried cranberries in a large bowl.
For the dressing
- In a small bowl, soak the dried cranberries in the hot water for about 30 minutes.
- Drain the cranberries. Using a food processor or blender, puree the cranberries with the reserved mandarin orange juice (the mixture will not be completely smooth). Mix in the sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, and mustard. Finally, add the olive oil to the mixture and blend until it is fully incorporated and has thickened slightly. Chill until ready to serve.
- Pour over the salad and toss to coat or serve on the side. Dressing recipe yields ¾ cup.
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