This week’s recipe swap theme was Vegetarian, and I will be the first to admit that I was a bit nervous to participate. I’m not a Vegetarian, and I haven’t had much luck finding meatless recipes that appeal to me when I have looked. But, I think I really got lucky with my match-up! I would consider this more of a side-dish, and salads are easy to do without meat, but I am thankful that I got this recipe from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles – you should definitely check it out!
Candied Orange and Walnut Salad with Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
Source: Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles
Yields: 2 entree-sized or 4 starter-sized salads
- 2 large handfuls of baby salad greens
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 1/4 to 1/2 candied spiced walnuts (recipe to follow)
- candied oranges (recipe to follow)
- orange balsamic vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
For the candied spiced walnuts
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chipotle, ancho, or cayenne chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 heaping cup walnuts (or can use pecans)
For the candied oranges
- 2 organic oranges, washed (can also use lemons or grapefruit)
- Water for boiling
- Ice water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
For the orange balsamic vinaigrette
- 1/4 small sweet onion such as Vidalia
- Zest of 1 large orange (preferably organic)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 Tablespoon orange marmalade or undiluted frozen orange juice
- 6 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 12 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Allow at least 24 hours to make the candied oranges since they need ample drying time. To make the candied oranges, cut the oranges into thin slices (not too thin or else they tear apart too easily) removing the ends and any seeds. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and blanch the orange slices for about a minute. Drain the orange slices and plunge them into a bath of ice water. Drain. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a large saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and add the orange slices. Let simmer (don’t boil) for an hour (you can simmer as much as 2 hours). Remove slices from hot sugar syrup and set on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to dry. Take up to 24 hours to dry.
- To make the vinaigrette, in a blender or food processor, puree the onion, orange zest, garlic, and orange marmalade. Add the vinegar, olive oil, and salt then blend to emulsify. Taste and balance sweetness (add a pinch of sugar, the syrup from the candied orange slices, or more marmalade), acidity (add a few more drops of vinegar), and salt. Pour vinaigrette into a squeeze bottle. Cap and refrigerate. Can be made a day ahead.
- To make the candied walnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together sugar, chili powder, and salt. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add nuts and boil for 3 minutes (if using pecans, boil only for 15 seconds). Drain the nuts well then shake in bag of sugar mixture until thoroughly coated. The sugar will melt slightly. Transfer the nuts to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Bake until they are a deep golden brown, turning halfway through baking, about 15 minutes. Watch closely because the sugar burns easily. Cool completely and then store in a air-tight container until ready to use.
- When ready to serve, in a large mixing bowl, toss salad greens and 1/2 to 3/4 of the dried cranberries, feta cheese, and walnuts with enough of the vinaigrette to coat each leaf. You will likely have vinaigrette leftover for a couple more salads later.
- Arrange the dressed salad in the middle of the salad plate. Finish the salads by garnishing with remaining dried cranberries, feta cheese, walnuts, and candied orange slices.