With Video Tutorial!
~ A vibrantly beautiful salad that’s truly fit for a celebration! You can even shape it like a gorgeous Christmas wreath for a showstopping, edible centerpiece! Pretty greens are studded with crunchy pistachios, sweet and tangy pomegranate arils, and juicy oranges. Topped off with a sprinkling of creamy goat cheese and a refreshingly light champagne vinaigrette. A perfect party salad! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Includes Make-Ahead Steps • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
This salad screams “Celebration!” (If you listen closely, I think it might sing “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells,” too.)
I mean … just look at it. Red pomegranates and green pistachios. You’ve got Christmas right there.
Plus a snow-like dusting of goat cheese.
Oh! And if it’s a celebration, we’ll be needing a bit of champagne, too – like maybe in a festive, light champagne vinaigrette!
Now, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t make this salad for Thanksgiving, and allllll winter long, when you’re craving juicy, sweet oranges and a crisp salad to break up all that heavier winter comfort food. One taste of this, and serving it just at Christmas won’t be nearly enough. I get that.
And honestly, I’m not gonna stop you from serving it at Easter. Or, heck – maybe St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, too. Who am I to judge?
But in its heart of hearts, this salad is a holiday salad, a Christmas salad. A special new tradition you’ll look forward to serving each year.
And with a few little tips, it’s a breeze to throw together. You can have it all prepped ahead of time, ready at a moment’s notice when your guests arrive!
Quick Shopping Tips
Greens – To make this holiday salad seriously quick and easy, we generally start with bagged greens, like a pretty spring mix or sweet baby lettuce mix.
Champagne Vinegar – What says “party” more than champagne? I find that champagne vinegar is pretty commonly stocked at my local grocery stores, but if you’re having trouble snagging it at your own market, you can grab it online, as well.
Pistachios – Although they cost a bit more, shelled pistachios will save you loads of time, and if you know you’ll be making this salad each Christmas, you can keep your eyes open a month or two ahead to snag them when they’re on sale.
Storing nuts in the fridge helps extend their shelf life significantly, so you won’t have to worry about the pistachios going bad before the final, exciting moment when they get to adorn the Christmas Salad (the moment they’ve been waiting for)!
Pomegranates – Another huge timesaver – the little containers of pomegranate arils that you can find in most any grocery store. Whole pomegranates are definitely a hallmark of the holiday season, so grab a couple for your centerpiece if you’d like, but save yourself the messy effort of extracting those pesky arils, and just buy them all ready to go. So easy!
If you do choose to buy the containers, though, just be sure to drain off (and drink – yum!) the juice at the bottom, rather than pouring it onto the salad along with the arils.
Cheese – Lastly … crumbled goat cheese! Until we started making Gretchen’s to-die-for Cranberry and Goat Cheese Crostini (another holiday gem you’ll want to check out 😉 ), I didn’t even know crumbled goat cheese was a thing. I would actually waste time trying to crumble those little goat cheese logs, ending up with smeary goat cheese all over my fingers and amorphous, gloppy chunks of goat cheese looking all messy on top of my salad. *SIGH*
Crumbled goat cheese to the rescue! Grab it … and move on to the next item on your grocery list. Done!
How to Supreme an Orange (aka Cutting Oranges Like a Restaurant Chef!)
You know how restaurants always serve beautiful, perfect wedges of citrus without one bit of the white pith or membranes? Looks so impressive, right? Well, it’s super easy and will make you look like a chef extraordinaire!
The technique is called supreming. Here’s how it’s done:
1) Start by cutting both ends off the orange, so you have a safe and stable base.
2) Turn the orange onto one end, and carefully begin to cut away the peel, starting at the top of the orange and slicing down toward your cutting board.
3) Follow the contour of the orange so you don’t cut away too much of the fruit itself – just the peel and white pith.
4) Work your way all the way around the orange, one area at a time.
5) Once you’ve cut away all the peel, go back and carefully remove any little bits of pith that you missed.
6) At this point, you may choose to use a paring knife, although I prefer to finish the entire job with my beloved 8-inch chef’s knife (which is actually this one, and not the prop knife I grabbed for this photo shoot) – whatever you’re comfortable with and feel safe using is just fine. Next, you simply cut out each individual section of the orange, carefully slicing right along the membranes that separate the orange sections from each other.
7) Cut just to the middle of the orange so you can remove each section while leaving the membranes behind, still attached together at the middle.
8) You’ll end up with an empty orange “core” and the attached pithy membranes, and also with a pile of beautifully supremed orange wedges, completely free of peel or pith!
High five – you did it!
I know that might seem like a lot of effort and steps, but once you’ve tried it once, you’ll get the hang of it and see that it’s really not tricky at all. I just tried to break it down for you in photos very clearly, in case you’ve never done it before.
Trust me – although we’re usually all about quick and easy shortcuts here at THK, for a gorgeous salad like this one, it’s worth the effort to make sure those oranges are as stunning as the rest of the salad!
Juicy Orange Secret
One little secret tip on those oranges while we’re at it.
Before juicing the orange you’ll use to make the vinaigrette, let it come to room temperature, and you’ll actually get notably more juice.
This salad can certainly be made an hour or so ahead of time, but all those (deliciously festive!) toppings can really weigh down the greens if you add them too far ahead, and the arils will start to turn the goat cheese pink after a couple of hours.
Also, as with most any other salad, I don’t recommend dressing this salad ahead of time, to prevent it from getting soggy. In fact, you may just want to offer a cruet of dressing alongside and allow guests to dress their own.
But wait … relaxed hostesses need to prep everything they can ahead of time, right? No worries – this salad comes together in mere moments!
If you want to have everything prepped several hours in advance or even the night before, you can place your greens in their serving bowl, prepare the dressing, and supreme the oranges – and store them each in separate containers in the fridge.
Just before serving, put it all together – and greet your guests at the door with a relaxed I’ve-got-it-ALL-under-control smile!
Christmas Wreath Edible Centerpiece!
You may have noticed in our photos that you’ve got a couple of options for serving this beautiful Christmas Salad.
You can simply pile all the ingredients on a round platter, arranging the oranges in a pretty, circular, wreath-like pattern toward the outer edges, and sprinkling a bit more of the toppings in that outer area to suggest the wreath shape. Like this:
Quick and easy.
But hey now … want to really knock their (festive Christmas) socks off?
This salad goes into full-on wreath mode when you nestle a bowl filled with dressing right in the center.
No doubt about it … that’s a Christmas wreath you’ve got there!
Now it’s not just singing falalalala and screaming “celebration.” It’s become it’s very own Christmas decoration … a showstopping centerpiece!
Happy holidays, friends! Gretchen and I both wish you a season filled with love and laughter, great food and good health. Cheers to you and yours!
More Delicious Holiday Salad Recipe Ideas …
- Salad with Goat Cheese, Pears, Candied Pecans and Maple-Balsamic Dressing
- Spinach Salad with Apple, Cheddar and Smoked Almonds
- Salad with Nuts, Feta and Cranberries (Two Ways!)
- Kale Chopped Salad with Berries and Freekeh (or Quinoa)
- 5 ounces of salad greens (such as spring mix or sweet baby lettuce mix)
- 2 navel oranges (about 11-12 ounces each, or 4 smaller navel oranges, about 6 ounces each), peeled and cut into sections (see directions for how to supreme an orange in the post above)
- 4 ounces shelled, roasted and salted pistachios (about a scant cup)
- 4 ounces pomegranate arils (a 4.3-ounce container is fine, drained)
- 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese (about a scant 1/2 cup)
- 5 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice (from about half a large navel orange)
- 4 teaspoons honey
- 3 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
- Place greens in a large serving bowl (or divide evenly among individual salad plates).
- Arrange oranges, pistachios, and pomegranate arils over top of greens. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
- For dressing, whisk together orange juice, honey, champagne vinegar, canola oil, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until the salt has dissolved and the dressing is emulsified.
- Dress salad just before serving, or pass the dressing at the table.
Make-ahead tips: The best way to prep this salad ahead is simply to have the dressing made, the oranges cut, and all of the components measured and ready. You can do this up to a day ahead, storing the greens, vinaigrette, oranges and goat cheese in separate, covered containers in the refrigerator. You can compose the salad up to about an hour before serving, but wait to dress it until the last minute (or allow guests to dress their own).