Monday, November 14, 2011

Holiday Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette and Poinsettias (beverage)

Thanksgiving can run a little bit heavy on carbs.  As one of my readers recently reminded me, not everyone can eat all those carbs.  Salads are a refreshing option whether you're having a sit-down dinner or a buffet.  Plus, the vinaigrette for this salad has a distinct holiday flavor since it's made with cranberries!

If you're having a sit-down dinner, arrange the salad on individual plates and add a dollop of vinaigrette in the middle.

If you're having a buffet, you could toss the ingredients with the vinaigrette in a big salad bowl.

One of my diabetic friends prefers to have her vinaigrette on the side.  You might consider pouring the vinaigrette into a cruet or bowl so each person can add as much as he or she likes.  You might even consider providing a few teeny personal dipping bowls.

Part of the craziness of preparing a huge Thanksgiving dinner is keeping track of all the dishes and constantly referring to the recipes so you don't miss a step.  This vinaigrette can be made the day before and refrigerated so you don't have to worry about it when you're busy.  However, *never* add the dressing ahead of time because it will make your salad wilt.  Add the dressing just before serving.

Neither the salad nor the drinks (below) require measuring.  Eyeball the amounts and relax!

Holiday Salad

baby spinach leaves
1 small red onion
handful dried cranberries (or Craisins)
handful pecans or walnuts, chopped
sliced apples or pears

Slice the onion into thin rings.  Place a handful of spinach leaves on each plate.  Add the onion in a pleasing circle.  Lay a few slices of the apple or pear on each plate like a fan.  Sprinkle with nuts and dried cranberries.  Add a dollop of Cranberry Vinaigrette to the center.

Alternatively, toss all ingredients in a large bowl.

Cranberry Vinaigrette

2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon horseradish mustard (for a tangy kick, use 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup light olive oil (or canola oil)

Place the cranberries, sugar and vinegar in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and cook (small bubbles) for five minutes.  Most of the cranberries will pop open.

Allow to cool for a few minutes, then put the cranberry mixture into a blender or food processor.  Add orange juice, mustard, salt, and pepper and puree.  When pureed, keep it running and slowly add the oil.

Can be made a day ahead.  Keep refrigerated!


Isn't that a lovely name for a holiday drink?  They're easy to make, too.


Cranberry juice

Sparking wine, sparkling cider, white wine, or ginger ale

Splash of orange juice or orange liqueur

As you can tell from the ingredients, you have some alternatives.  You can make it a as a cocktail or a virgin drink bound to be a hit with kids!  It's supposed to have something with bubbles in it, but no one will know the difference if you make it with white wine.

Do the Rachel Ray here and eyeball the amounts.  Poor a little bit of cranberry juice into the bottom of a glass.  Top with sparkling whatever.  Add a splash of orange juice or orange liqueur.

Have a happy holiday!

And don't forget to send your Christmas cookie recipes to our cookie contest!

I'm in the mood for lemon squares and anything with chocolate -- anybody have favorite recipes? 

To enter, send your favorite recipe to Krista (KristaDavis at KristaDavis dot com).
We'll choose 10 finalists, recipes that we'll bake and post here on the blog.
Then you, our readers, will choose the overall winner!

What does that winner win?  A fabulous collection of cookie decorating supplies, that's what!

Pastel Sanding Sugar
Primary Sanding Sugar

Powdered Food Colors
Cute Flower Cookie Stencils

 Don't delay. Enter today!


  1. Nice and easy! I'm going to enjoy the recipes this week!

  2. So easy, Elizabeth. And really necessary. A note of lightness!

    ~ Krista

  3. Shawn, it's easy to overlook a fun beverage, too, with all the cooking that's going on. The Poinsettia is delicious and a little bit special.

    ~ Krista

  4. Krista, I always serve salad and had never thought of having a cranberry dressing! Love it. And the sparkling whatever. LOL Fun, fun.


  5. Oh wow ... I love the salad dressing! And the salad, actually. Totally making this for the holiday (instead of my usual apple/pecan/romaine thing).

  6. Wonderful - so easy and so festive with gorgeous colors and a delightful combination of flavors. I especially like the "eyeball the amounts and relax" advice! LOL and...

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    ~ Cleo

  7. Avery, I love this dressing. And I've discovered that it's quite nice with meat, too!

    ~ Krista

  8. Wendy, your apple/pecan salad isn't that different! But the cranberry vinaigrette does add a holiday flavor to the salad.

    ~ Krista

  9. Cleo, you're so right about eyeballing it! You can drive yourself nuts measuring every single thing!

    ~ Krista

  10. Such pretty pictures! I'm a cranberry girl, so these are right up my alley. Especially love the berries in the vinaigrette. Another winner, Krista!

  11. Thanks,Lynn! I love cranberries, too. And you know, this vinaigrette might even be good on a turkey sandwich.

    ~ Krista

  12. Love the way this is written... takes all the pressure off of making this beautiful salad. eyeball recipes are my favorites.

    Delicious dressing

    And the Poinsettia! What a great idea for a cocktail that you can indeed make and share an adult version and one for the younguns!

    great post! Sorry I've been away too long, you all are terrific! Thanks for sharing

    Dave (formerly Year on the Grill)