I wanted to create a new salad that I could make for Christmas dinner, something that was a little different than what we normally make all the while using winter flavors. I am so excited to share this recipe with you because I love it so much and it’s the PERFECT Christmas salad. It’s everything I love in a salad: crunchy, crispy, fresh, flavorful and tangy plus it’s a gorgeous salad and the perfect festive colors for Christmas.
Also, after making this salad I am now officially obsessed with fig preserves – I want to use them on everything!
My favorite part of this salad was the fig balsamic vinaigrette that I made using the fig preserves. There is just something so scrumptious about a homemade dressing and this one was no exception! I love that a homemade dressing is so easy to adjust according to what you like – a little more tang from vinegar, a little more sweetness with more fig preserves, etc.
Grab a mason jar to mix it in – shaking the dressing to combine it is so much easier than whisking it. Add the olive oil, then the balsamic vinegar, fig preserves and then a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake to combine and taste. I ended up adding a little bit more fig to balance some of the tang from the balsamic vinegar.
The other ingredient I added to set this salad to set it apart was homemade candied walnuts. I actually went to the store and was planning on buying candied walnuts but then I couldn’t find any so instead I decided to make them. I whisked together pure maple syrup and cinnamon then added in 2 cups of walnuts and stirred to coat them completely. I dumped the walnuts onto a baking sheet and baked until toasty and golden. I sprinkled a little more cinnamon on top when I pulled them out of the oven and once they cooled they were perfect. The cinnamon blended with the sweetness of the syrup was a perfect combination.
Gather the rest of the ingredients along with two types of lettuce, I used spinach and green leaf lettuce but any lettuce you like will do. I also have dried cranberries, goat cheese and the arils or seeds out of a pomegranate. I love the pomegranate seeds because they are little bursts of flavor in each bite. But beware, these little arils are not the easiest things to pop out of the pomegranate skin. Make sure you wear an apron or else you’ll end up like me with little red splotches all over.
Now it’s time to assemble the salad. Find a large plate or platter and lay the lettuce across it. I’ve realized that displaying a salad on a plate is so much more elegant than dumping it into a bowl, especially for Christmas dinner.
Layer on the candied walnuts, dried cranberries, pomegranate arils, goat cheese and at the last minute drizzle the fig balsamic vinaigrette over it all.
It’s absolutely delicious! I’ve already made it twice this week and I may make it again this weekend to finish up the pomegranate seeds and walnuts. The “recipe” below makes a smaller portion, for 3-4 servings, but can easily be doubled for a larger amount. However, the salad dressing makes about 8oz which is plenty of dressing for an eight person serving.
I hope you enjoy this salad – I know you’re going to love it!
- 4 cups lettuce, I used spinach and green leaf
- 1 cup candied Walnuts (2 cups raw Walnuts, 1/3 cup Pure Maple Syrup, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon)
- Pomegranate arils from half a pomegranate
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 4 oz. Goat Cheese
- 1/3 cup Canola Oil (or EVOO)
- 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 TB Fig Preserves
- Pinch salt/pepper
- Preheat oven to 375* - line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk the cinnamon and maple syrup until combined. Dump in walnuts and stir to coat. Dump onto baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 min. Stir twice and watch to prevent burning.
- Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Combine ingredients in a mason jar and shake to combine - taste and adjust.
- Lay the lettuce across a large platter or plate and layer the ingredients on top. Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over at the last minute just before serving to avoid limp greens.
- If making a larger salad - double the ingredients but the vinaigrette will be plenty for a double batch of salad.