Favorite Holiday Green Salad Recipe

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The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, and what better way to complement your festive meals than with a vibrant, delicious salad? Our Favorite Holiday Green Salad is a delightful blend of fresh greens, crisp apple slices, creamy avocado, and crunchy walnuts, all topped with a tangy shallot vinaigrette. This salad is perfect for adding a refreshing touch to your holiday table.

Benefits of the Holiday Green Salad

Nutritional Benefits

This salad tastes great and is full of good things for you. The mix of fresh greens provides a variety of vitamins and minerals, while the apple and avocado offer fiber and healthy fats. The walnuts add a boost of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, making this salad a well-rounded addition to any meal.

Flavor Profile

The combination of ingredients in this salad creates a wonderful medley of flavors and textures. The sweetness of the apple pairs beautifully with the creamy avocado and tangy pomegranate arils. The fennel adds a subtle anise flavor, while the walnuts and Parmesan provide a savory crunch. The shallot vinaigrette ties everything together with its bright, zesty notes.

Ingredients Overview

Salad Ingredients

  • 10 ounces greens (I used half arugula, half little gems)
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 1 medium pomegranate, cut into pieces (about 1.5 to 2 cups of arils)
  • 1 cup walnut halves, roughly chopped and toasted
  • 2/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, separated

Shallot Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 1 batch of shallot vinaigrette (ingredients and preparation detailed below)

Step-by-Step Instructions

Preparing the Salad

  1. Prepare the greens: In a large mixing bowl, combine 10 ounces of mixed greens. I used half arugula and half little gems for a balance of flavors and textures.
  2. Slice the apple and avocado: Thinly slice 1 apple and 1 avocado. Add them to the bowl with the greens.
  3. Slice the fennel: Very thinly slice 1 medium fennel bulb and add it to the bowl.
  4. Separate the pomegranate arils: Carefully separate the arils from 1 medium pomegranate. Measure out about 1.5 to 2 cups. Add half to the bowl and reserve the rest for garnish.
  5. Toast the walnuts: Roughly chop 1 cup of walnut halves and toast them in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant. Add to the bowl.
  6. Add the Parmesan: Add half of the 2/3 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese to the bowl.

Making the Shallot Vinaigrette

  1. Ingredients for the vinaigrette: Combine the following in a small bowl or jar:
    • 1 finely minced shallot
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
    • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  2. Mix the vinaigrette: Whisk together all the ingredients until well combined. Alternatively, you can shake them in a sealed jar.

Tossing and Serving the Salad

  1. Drizzle with vinaigrette: Drizzle the shallot vinaigrette evenly over the salad ingredients in the mixing bowl.
  2. Toss gently: Toss the salad gently until all ingredients are evenly coated with the vinaigrette.
  3. Garnish and serve: Carefully transfer the salad to an elegant serving dish. Enhance its appearance by delicately adorning it with the remaining pomegranate arils and finely shaved Parmesan. To add a touch of sophistication, generously sprinkle a few twists of freshly-ground black pepper. It is recommended to serve this delectable creation promptly to fully relish its flavors and textures. Indulge and savor every moment of this exquisite dining experience!

Tips for the Perfect Holiday Salad

Choosing the Right Greens

A mix of arugula and little gem lettuce provides a great balance of peppery and mild flavors. You can also use baby spinach, kale, or any other greens you prefer.

Best Apples to Use

Crisp and slightly tart apples like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji work best in this salad. They add a nice crunch and balance the flavors.

Alternatives for Nuts

If you’re not a fan of walnuts or have a nut allergy, try using toasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sliced almonds for a similar crunch.

Customizing Your Salad

Protein Additions

Add some protein to make this salad a complete meal. Grilled chicken, shrimp, or chickpeas are excellent options that pair well with the existing flavors.

Extra Toppings

Feel free to get creative with additional toppings. Dried cranberries, goat cheese, or roasted butternut squash can add even more depth and flavor to this salad.

Making Ahead and Storing

Prepping in Advance

You can prepare the ingredients ahead of time to save effort. Slice the apple, avocado, and fennel, and store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge. Toast the walnuts and put them in a container with a lid. Leave them at room temperature.

Proper Storage

Any extra salad should be kept in the fridge in a container that won’t let air in. To keep it fresh, store the dressing separately and toss the salad with it just before serving. The salad will stay fresh for up to 1 day.

Serving Suggestions

Pairing with Main Dishes

This salad pairs wonderfully with a variety of main dishes. Serve it alongside roasted turkey, baked ham, or a hearty vegetarian casserole to add a refreshing contrast.

Ideal Occasions

Perfect for holiday gatherings, family dinners, or festive potlucks, this salad is both beautiful and delicious. It’s sure to impress your guests with its vibrant colors and flavors.

Dietary Considerations

Gluten-Free Adaptations

This salad is naturally gluten-free. Just ensure that all ingredients, especially the vinaigrette components, are certified gluten-free.

Vegan Options

To make this salad vegan, simply omit the Parmesan cheese or replace it with a vegan cheese alternative. The rest of the ingredients are plant-based and suitable for a vegan diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use different greens?

Absolutely! You can use any greens you prefer, such as baby spinach, kale, or mixed greens. Just be sure to choose fresh, crisp greens for the best texture and flavor.

How do I toast walnuts?

To make walnuts toasty, put them in a dry pan over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently for about 5-7 minutes, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Be careful not to burn them.

What can I substitute for Parmesan cheese?

If you don’t have Parmesan cheese, try using pecorino romano, asiago, or even a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor without the dairy.

How long will the salad stay fresh?

The salad is best served immediately after tossing. However, if you need to store it, keep the dressing separate and combine just before serving. The prepared ingredients will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 1 day.

Can I add a different fruit?

Yes, you can! Pears, oranges, or even dried cranberries can be great additions or substitutions for the apple and pomegranate arils. Experiment with your favorite fruits to find your perfect combination.

Enjoy creating and savoring this Favorite Holiday Green Salad! It’s a festive, flavorful dish that’s sure to become a staple at your holiday celebrations.

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