Holiday Salad with Balsamic Dressing

This beautiful holiday salad is bejeweled with pomegranate arils, mandarin oranges, feta cheese, candied nuts and the most delicious dressing ever!

I love having a gorgeous salad in my recipe repertoire for the holidays.

It rounds out a holiday meal so perfectly – both in looks and with delicious, fresh flavors!

Salad greens, mandarin oranges, pomegranate arils, candied nuts and feta cheese on white plate.

Holiday Salad Ingredients

This salad uses both mixed salad greens and romaine for the base. I like the heft and crunch that the romaine gives to the tender salad greens.

The salad add-ins are tasty and pretty!

  • pomegranate arils (can sub in dried cranberries or cherries)
  • crumbled feta cheese (can sub in another favorite cheese, like shaved Parmesan)
  • mandarin oranges (I use canned oranges that have been drained and patted dry – can sub in segmented fresh mandarin oranges)
  • candied pecans or walnuts (can sub in sliced almonds)

As you can see, this salad is really adaptable based on the time of year you make it and your taste preferences! However, the way you see the salad in the post is my favorite way to enjoy it! I love the tangy feta, sweet and spicy pecans, juicy oranges and tart pomegranate arils. SO GOOD.

White salad bowl filled with salad greens, mandarin oranges, feta cheese crumbles, candied pecans and pomegranate arils.

A Note About Candied Pecans

My favorite recipe to use for the candied pecans is this oven-baked recipe. The pecans turn out perfectly every time. It’s foolproof and easy! I omit the cinnamon and add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a sweet/spicy kick.

The skillet version from this romaine salad recipe also works well if you are looking for a quicker recipe.

For either method, the pecans can be made a couple weeks in advance and stored in a tightly covered container.

Close up view of salad greens, mandarin oranges, pomegranate arils, feta cheese and candied nuts.

Balsamic Salad Dressing

The dressing for this holiday salad is simple and so tasty.

Mel’s Tip: use a light-colored vinegar in the dressing recipe! A dark balsamic vinegar will overpower the flavors in the salad.

My preference is to use a white balsamic. A fruit-flavored white balsamic will work well, too! You can also use white wine or red wine vinegar.

This salad is not heavily dressed. The dressing is light and refreshing and a little goes a long way!

Pouring vinaigrette dressing over salad greens on white plate.

Rave Reviews for This Holiday Salad

My kids LOVE this salad. I recently made it for dinner with grilled chicken on the side, and my 17-year old son was scraping every last bit of salad out of the serving bowl after his third helping.

Several of us would have maybe challenged him on that in order to get the last dregs ourselves, but he is a high school wrestler, and in case you didn’t know…life lesson #187 states that you never get in the way of a high school wrestler and his food during high school wrestling season.

This holiday salad comes together incredibly fast (the candied pecans and dressing can be made a week in advance!) and is bound to be a crowd pleaser whenever you choose to serve it!

I hope you love it!

Fork scooping bite of salad greens, feta cheese, mandarin orange and pomegranate seeds.

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Rosemary Dinner Rolls 
Two Years Ago: Creamy Baked Mashed Potatoes with Buttery Parmesan Crumbs Make-Ahead! 
Three Years Ago: Pressure Cooker Lasagna Soup + Stovetop Directions
Four Years Ago: Delicious Cranberry Pear Crumble
Five Years Ago: Buttery, Flaky Make-Ahead Overnight Crescent Dinner Rolls No Kneading/No Stand Mixer 
Six Years Ago: Skillet Honey Garlic Chicken 20-Minute Meal
Seven Years Ago: Stuffed Apple and Bacon Sweet Potato Casserole
Eight Years Ago: Warm Russian Tea
Nine Years Ago: Smoky Corn Chowder 
Ten Years Ago: Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

Salad greens, mandarin oranges, pomegranate arils, candied nuts and feta cheese on white plate.

Holiday Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Salad:

  • 6 ounces (3-4 cups) mixed salad greens
  • 6 ounces (3-4 cups) chopped romaine
  • 2 (11-ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained and oranges patted dry (see note)
  • ½ to 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (see note)
  • ½ to 1 cup pomegranate arils (can sub dried cranberries or cherries)
  • ½ to 1 cup candied pecans or walnuts (see note)

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar (see note)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Lightly toss all the salad ingredients together in a bowl (make sure the mandarin oranges are dried well).

  • Whisk or blend the salad dressing ingredients together until well-combined.

  • Drizzle the salad dressing over the entire salad and toss to combine OR serve the dressing on the side for individual servings.

Mandarin Oranges: in place of the canned mandarin oranges, you can slice and segment 2-3 small fresh mandarin oranges for the salad.
Feta Cheese: crumbling feta cheese from the block vs buying already crumbled feta is a game changer. It is worlds creamier and super delicious (most grocery stores carry it in the specialty cheese section). 
Candied Pecans: my favorite recipe to use for the candied pecans is this oven-baked recipe – it is more foolproof than skillet recipes. I omit the cinnamon and add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a sweet/spicy kick. For a skillet version, I use the one from this romaine salad recipe. The pecans can be made a couple weeks in advance and stored in a tightly covered container.
Vinegar: my preference for the salad dressing is a light-colored vinegar like white balsamic or white wine vinegar (I’ve used a fruit-flavored white balsamic, too, with great results!). Red wine vinegar will also work. 

Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 183kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 212mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 10g

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