Winter salads often feel uninspiring, like the unwanted step-sister to the glory that is spring and summer salads. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Every December I try to come up with a festive salad that you’d actually be excited to make and eat. Here are the holiday salads for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 (2020 didn’t get a salad, because, well, 2020 turned things a bit upside down). This year’s salad is definitely a favorite and I hope you enjoy it. Happy Holidays!
FIG AND CRANBERRY SALAD WITH CANDIED WALNUTS AND BALSAMIC HONEY DRESSING
makes 2 large, entree sized salads or 4 side salads
3 to 3.5 oz greens
1 cup fresh, whole cranberries
1 cup mixed fresh herbs*
3oz brie, chopped into bite sized pieces
4-6 ripe figs, cut into halves or quarters**
6-8 slices speck, cut into bite sized pieces
candied walnuts (recipe below)
balsamic honey dressing (recipe below)
1 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons maple syrup
several pinches of cayenne pepper
heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
balsamic honey dressing:
1/4 cup walnut oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt and black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Toss all the spiced walnut ingredients together in a bowl. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring halfway. You want the walnuts to be toasted and fragrant but not starting to burn. Set walnuts aside to cool.
2. Mix all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. Put fresh cranberries in a small food processor or blender. Blitz on high for a few seconds at a time, scraping down the sides as necessary. Stop blending as soon as there are no whole cranberries left.
4. Gently toss together the greens, herbs, and blitzed cranberries in a large bowl. Add some of the balsamic honey dressing, toss a few times, then give it a taste and add more dressing if needed. Serve the greens onto either 2 large entree plates or 4 salad plates. Top each salad equally with the brie, figs, speck, and spiced walnuts.
*your choice of herbs, I used a combo of chives, chervil, oregano, and marjoram… mint would also be a nice addition
**if you have trouble finding fresh figs, try substituting pear slices or persimmon wedges