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The Cook in Me: Red and Green Christmas Salad©
We always spent Christmas Eve at our home when my boys were little because the boys went with their father on Christmas Day. We always invited guests for dinner. Because I was teaching in a graduate school at the time, I always invited students who were at loose ends and couldn't go home for the holidays for some reason, and friends who were considered part of our "family" and spent every holiday with us. Our traditional Christmas Eve festivities began about three in the afternoon. We brought out the Appetizers of Carmelized Baked Brie on thinly sliced French Bread Crostini with slivers of Granny Smith apples, Shrimp Cocktail, and Spinach, Mushroom and Artichoke Dip. After we all went outside and ran around the block about six times, we sat down to a dinner of this Salad, Roasted Beef Tenderloin with a Dijon Brown Sauce surrounded by Roasted Red Potatoes and Marinated Mushrooms, Glazed Carrots, and Homemade Parker House Rolls. Obviously, for one evening, we weren't worried about butter, red meat, or carbs. I created this salad in 1986. It was a perfect light accompaniment to the heavier beef, and the warm dressing just enhanced the cozy feeling from the fire blazing in the fireplace. A lovely glass of Cabernet or Merlot completed the meal. For dessert, we enjoyed homemade Christmas cookies (all family recipes) and Peppermint Ice Cream with homemade hot fudge sauce. Every year the family wanted to know if I was making this salad, as if I would somehow change the menu that had become a tradition. Who needs gifts? Our family and friends were all we needed.
©2012 by Kathy Striggow
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Red and Green Christmas Salad
- For Salad:
- 10 cups Red and Green Romaine Lettuce, or 1/2 tender baby spinach & half red romaine, washed & torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 Ripe Avocado, pitted, peeled &, diced into ½ in. square chunks
- 1 large Ripe Red Pear, unpeeled, diced into about ½ in. square chunks
- 1/2 cup Dried cherries or cranberries
- 1/2 cup Sugared walnuts, (Optional, Recipe follows)
- 1 cup Warm Champagne Vinegar Dressing
- For Champagne Vinegar Dressing:
- 1 cup Champagne Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Flour
- 2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten
- 4 Tbsp. 1/2 & 1/2
- 2 cups Olive Oil
- Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
- For Sugared, Walnuts (courtesy of Martha Stewart):
- 1/2 cup Confectioner's Sugar
- 1/2 tsp. Coarse or Kosher Salt
- 2 cups Walnut Halves
- For the Salad: Make sure your greens are dry by running them through your salad spinner.
- Place the leaves in a large bowl and top with all other salad ingredients except the dressing.
- Toss well and place in refrigerator until ready to serve (no more than 1 hour).
- Pour about ¾ to 1 c. of the warm dressing over the salad before serving.
- For the Dressing: Combine vinegar, sugar, flour and mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering.
- Turn heat to low and gradually whisk in the egg and the ½ and ½. Do not over cook as you don't want scrambled eggs in your dressing.
- Whisk in the oil slowly so that it does not separate later.
- Remove from heat.
- Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- For the Sugared Walnuts: Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Combine sugar and salt in a large bowl.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add walnuts, and blanch 2 minutes. Drain, and immediately toss with sugar-salt mixture.
- Transfer walnuts to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the nuts and parchment paper from the pan. Let cool completely before storing in a tightly sealed container.