Winter Holiday Salad & Dressing
I've been making this salad for my family at Thanksgiving for years. It started because I really wanted something fresh and colorful on the table to go with all the rich, delicious dishes that were already there. It was a hit. They've asked for it every year since.
Balsamic Vinaigrette (see recipe & video below)
- There are two options for the walnuts, I've done both and both are great. Lightly toast the walnuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes to bring out the flavor or "candy" your walnuts by adding butter and brown sugar to the pan and cooking a bit longer.
- De-seed 1-2 pomegranates (If you've never done this before it's really not that hard. I like Jamie Oliver's 1-minute video (link) showing you how)
- Peel, core and slice your pears into thin slices
- Build your salad in a big bowl:
- 1-2 inch layer of salad dressing
- fill to the top with greens
- add walnuts, pears, and pomegranate seeds on top
- add crumbled goat cheese
Toss right before serving. It's beautiful and delicious!!
Now for the dressing. If you're not already making your own salad dressings, you absolutely should start. It's quite easy plus it's healthier and tastier than what you can find at the market. There's a lot of different variations you can do. Here's the recipe for my family's go-to dressing, which is a take on my French mother-in-law's classic vinaigrette. Watch the video to see just how easy it really is.
Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Use a dressing jar or glass mason jar; something with a lid.
- Add 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- Add 2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Add 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- Add 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
- Add 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Put on the lid and shake until blended
That's all there is to it. Simply store in the fridge and you always have fresh, delicious dressing ready to be used. If you're making a big salad for a dinner party or potluck, go ahead and make the dressing right at the bottom of a large bowl. Depending on how big the bowl is I usually make about 1-2 inches of dressing. Then add all your ingredients on top of the dressing and wait to toss it until right before you're ready to eat. That way it's easy to transport, no extra jars, and your salad won't get wilted.
There are many variations you can make on the dressing above. Simply follow the template below and mix and match acids, oils, and flavors. Find a combination that you and your family love.
1 part Acid -- Vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, champagne, etc) or Citrus Juice (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
2 parts Oil -- Olive, Avocado, Walnut, Flax, Sesame, etc
Flavorings -- Garlic, Shallots, Onion, plus any variety of herbs and/or spices
Have fun experimenting. I promise, you won't regret taking the 10 minutes it will take to make your own dressing. You'll never go back to store bought.