When I was writing my cookbook, New England Invite: Fresh Feasts to Savor the Season, I worked with my publisher to find images for the cover that exemplified each season. We had the quintessential lobster bake for summer, fresh veggie crudité for spring, and for the winter we used a holiday green salad dotted with juicy red cranberries. The wintery, festive salad was made for holiday entertaining and after a few years on the shelf I thought it could use an update with some crisp Little Leaf Farms greens!My original recipe uses a combination of fresh and dried cranberries, but for this version I pulled out the fresh ones. Fresh cranberries can be really tart, and I wanted this salad to be a little bit sweeter in flavor. They add such a beautiful pop of color, and removing them called for a festive replacement so I used fragrant orange zest corkscrews in their place. That citrus smell comes off the plate in such an appetizing way, and ties into the citrus elements of the salad dressing. The salad starts off with a big heaping pile of Little Leaf Farms lettuce. I used the Little Leaf Baby Red and Green Leaf Lettuce for this one because of the festive red and green leaves (and because I think this combination tastes great with the sweeter flavors in this salad!). I love that Little Leaf Farms lettuce is grown locally. Less time traveling to my grocery store means it’s crunchier and crisper! That extra freshness makes it perfect for standing up to heartier toppings like goat cheese, and you don’t get wilting leaves if you prep your salad before family arrives for a holiday dinner. The salad is topped with thin slices of pears, sweet candied pecans, and dried cranberries. The crumbled goat cheese gets spread out over the top and drizzled with a touch of honey and the fragrant orange zest. I love how the red, orange and green tones all mix together for a really colorful plate. The dressing is made with a balsamic reduction — which gives it tons of depth – olive oil, garlic, honey and the aromatic citrus of freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s so tasty when all of the ingredients combine, making it a showstopper for your holiday menu! Scroll down for the full recipe:
- ⅓ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- ½ Cup Olive Oil
- ¼ Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice,
- 1 Tbsp of Orange Zest, plus more for garnishing
- 1 Tsp of Garlic Paste
- 1 Tsp of Honey, plus more for drizzling
- Salt and Pepper
- Little Leaf Farms Baby Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
- 1 Pear, cored and thinly sliced
- Candied Pecans
- Dried Cranberries
- Goat Cheese, crumbled
- In a small saucepan, simmer balsamic vinegar until it reduces by a little more than half, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- In a small jar with a lid, combine cooled balsamic reduction, olive oil, fresh squeezed orange juice and zest, garlic paste, and honey. Screw on the top and shake the ingredients vigorously to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To assemble the salad, fill a large serving platter with Little Leaf Farms Baby Red and Green Leaf Lettuce.
- Arrange thin slices of pears on the bed of lettuce, top with candied pecans, dried cranberries, and crumbles of goat cheese.
- Lightly drizzle the goat cheese with honey, and top with remaining orange zest.
- Dress with orange balsamic dressing immediately before serving.
This post was created in partnership with Little Leaf Farms. All opinions, images and content are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support this site.