This week brings us Thanksgiving Day. Not only is it a day to gather with family and special friends to acknowledge our gratefulness and give thanks for all of our blessings, it’s a day to share a meal with those we love. That meal marks the beginning of the season of puff and fluff.
I was watching one of the national news programs last week and was reminded by a nutrition expert that each of us will experience an average weight-gain of 7 pounds during the weeks between Thanksgiving and the start of the New Year. We will puff up and fluff out.
It’s a good idea to have some sweet-free, bad-fat-free, fresh and healthful food in your house throughout the “Puff and Fluff” season. It’s ammunition against stress headaches, irritability, low energy and lethargy that can result when we overdose on the ample amount of sugar and fat-laden foods that seem to be lurking wherever we go during the festive season.
One of my favorite green salads during the winter is this Green and Red Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. It’s everything I love tossed up and arranged on a plate. Bosc pears, dripping with juice the flavor of white wine, crisp sweet and tart apples, ruby red pomegranate seeds, toasted pecans and creamy blue cheese (right now I’m hooked on Hook’s Blue Paradise).
Cranberry Vinaigrette is light and refreshing. I use Knudsen’s Just Cranberry, which has no sugar added, so it’s very tart. I add a small amount of golden local honey to sweeten the vinaigrette. A tiny bit of cinnamon adds a very unique, yet subtle flavor, the perfect spice to brighten up the fresh ingredients in the salad.
Green and Red Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette is a natural addition to any holiday meal. I like it all winter long. If you’re planning a brunch or a holiday luncheon, this salad along with Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Frittata (that recipe is in my column this week) makes a meal everyone appreciates for it’s low “Puff and Fluff” quotient. Not to mention the fantastic flavors and textures. I often serve this salad alongside a bowl of hot roasted squash soup.
All I can say is, get ready. Start your metabolism engines and let the eating begin!
Green and Red Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
- Â½ cup unsweetened cranberry juice
- Â¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 1Â½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1Â½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Â½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Â½ cup canola oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 head of red leaf lettuce
- 1 head of green leaf lettuce
- 2 fresh ripe Bosc pears, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 crispy tart apples, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
- Pecans, toasted
- Blue cheese, crumbled
- Seeds from 1 to 2 pomegranates
Prepare vinaigrette by pouring cranberry juice into a jar or deep bowl. Add vinegar, lemon juice, honey, mustard and cinnamon. Cover jar and shake or whisk to blend in a bowl. Add canola oil to the jar, cover and shake. Or, slowly whisk the oil into mixture in bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust flavor with more honey, cinnamon, vinegar or lemon juice until the flavor is just right for you. Set aside.
In a large salad bowl, toss leaf lettuce with just enough Cranberry Vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Donâ€™t drown them.
Plate the lettuce on individual dishes. Arrange remaining ingredients, in amounts you prefer, on the dressed lettuce. Serve immediately. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Tips from the cook
- I like to chill the salad plates in the freezer. The plate will look frosty when you serve the salad. The salad will stay cold and fresh as it is eaten.
- The salad ingredients can all be tossed together in a large bowl and guests can serve themselves.
- Toast pecans in a shallow baking pan in 350-degree oven until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Fresh baby spinach leaves (about 1 pound), rinsed and dried, can be used as an alternative to leaf lettuce.