The Best Christmas Salad
Looking for a Christmas Salad recipe to complete your holiday menu? This colorful salad is a mix of sweet and savory seasonal ingredients like arugula, oranges, cinnamon almonds, goat cheese and pomegranate seeds.
I didn’t expect it, but my Thanksgiving Salad and Thanksgiving Fruit Salad recipes became VERY popular around here this year. While I know not everybody thinks a holiday salad is necessary with the rest of the feast, it’s obvious that a lot of people do.
So here I am with my very best Christmas Salad idea (and Christmas Fruit Salad). This salad for Christmas dinner is a balance of sweet and savory seasonal ingredients, with a colorful presentation and an irresistible creamy orange dressing.
I know the “main dish” varies widely at Christmas dinner – you could be enjoying prime rib, Greek lasagna, ham, roasted turkey with maple bourbon glaze or Cajun turkey, lamb, or even seafood. It’s all across the board.
No matter what the entree is (even something like salmon pasta on a weeknight), this Christmas Salad recipe will be a gorgeous and delicious addition to your table. It’s also great the next day with a scoop of loaded mashed potato casserole.
This Christmas Salad recipe is a balance of sweet and savory ingredients:
- baby arugula – Peppery arugula is my very favorite pairing for creamy goat cheese. One of those plastic boxes at the grocery store is perfect. You can also use spinach in this holiday salad recipe.
- radicchio – like arugula, radicchio has a peppery, mildly spicy bite to it, making it a perfect pairing for sweet oranges. You’ll need half a head of radicchio for this salad for Christmas dinner. Save the other half to make a half batch of my roasted radicchio for another meal.
- oranges – Classic navel oranges, cut into segments (more on that below). If you don’t have time to segment oranges, grab a can of mandarin oranges, drain them and pat them dry for this Christmas salad recipe.
- goat cheese – I use one (4 ounce) container of crumbled goat cheese. Just open the package and sprinkle it on. Or, you could use a log of goat cheese rolled in dried cranberries, which I also love for a Valentine’s Day snacks board and my cranberry appetizer. Crumbled feta cheese is also great here. If you’re a goat cheese lover like I am, bookmark my goat cheese pasta salad for next summer!
- almonds – Cinnamon roasted almonds just SCREAM Christmas, don’t you think? If you don’t have access to those or don’t prefer them, plain sliced almonds are a good substitute in this Christmas salad idea. You could also use candied or cinnamon roasted pecans or walnuts for this arugula goat cheese salad.
- pomegranate seeds – I buy the little container of just seeds (arils) at the store, rather than buying the whole fruit and struggling with unleashing the seeds. SO EASY. Sprinkle any extra seeds you might have on a vegan lentil curry after the holiday.
What kind of dressing for arugula goat cheese salad?
If you use fresh navel oranges and segment them yourself for this Christmas salad recipe, you’ll be left with a lot of fresh orange juice that you can squeeze from the remaining orange pulp.
Don’t waste the juice, use it to make a fresh and sweet orange salad dressing for this holiday salad!
Along with the orange juice, you’ll be using olive oil, a little mayonnaise to make it creamy, honey for added sweetness, white wine vinegar to add a little more acid, Dijon mustard for a slightly spicy kick, and salt and pepper for seasoning.
Simply add all of the ingredients at the same time to a medium bowl and whisk for 30 seconds. Done and done!
If you’re looking for something different for your arugula goat cheese salad for Christmas dinner, my tahini dressing and blender citrus salad dressing (which is also great for Easter salad) are also perfect for this salad.
Catch the juices when you segment the oranges for this Christmas salad idea:
The Kitchn has a nice tutorial on How to Segment An Orange, and it’s the exact method I use. When you get to the part where you are cutting the fruit segments out, be sure you do this over a bowl, so that the juice drips into the bowl and you can save it!
Along with the juice drips, give a good squeeze to the orange “skeleton” that’s left in your hand after you cut all the segments out. This remaining orange flesh will yield some good juice to use for your dressing for this Christmas salad.
Once you’re a pro at segmenting citrus, try your hand at a grapefruit and make grapefruit creme brulee for holiday dessert!
How can I prepare the holiday salad for Christmas dinner in advance?
I’m a BIG fan of prepping for Christmas dinner in advance, so there’s less to do the day of (I even make my gravy from scratch in advance), and this Christmas salad recipe is no exception. Here’s how I do it:
- the dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge (just like the cottage cheese dip that goes with my Easter fruit salad).
- If you’re using a fresh pomegranate, the arils can be taken out of it in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days (but personally, I usually just buy the little cups of pomegranate seeds, becase it’s so much easier).
- the cinnamon roasted almonds can be chopped 2 days in advance and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Try not to eat them all!
- the oranges can be segmented 1 day in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
- the radicchio can be sliced 1 day in advance and kept in a zip top bag in the fridge.
On the day of the big feast, simply assemble all of your ready-to-go ingredients for this arugula goat cheese salad and serve!
Special entrees to serve with this holiday salad:
Even if this Christmas salad idea ends up stealing the show, you still need a main dish, right?
For the Orange Dressing:
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Salad:
- 1/2 head radicchio, thinly sliced
- 1 box (5 ounces) baby arugula
- 2 navel oranges, peeled and segmented
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese or feta
- 1/2 cup cinnamon roasted almonds, roughly chopped, or sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- Make the Orange Dressing: Add mayonnaise, oil, orange juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to medium bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Make the Salad: In large bowl, toss radicchio and arugula until well combined.
- Arrange arugula mixture on large circular platter with a small bowl in the middle reserved for dressing.
- Top salad with oranges, cheese, almonds and pomegranate seeds.
- Pour dressing into bowl in center of salad and serve immediately.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 352mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 7g