Mixed Greens with Apples, Candied Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette


Thanksgiving is officially over.  After being served five turkeys in three days (2 roasted, 1 grilled, 2 deep fried) I’d say it’s time for a change, wouldn’t you agree?  I’m dreaming of pasta, fish, rustic homemade bread and even waist-friendlier options using quinoa but first I must get through my own turkey leftovers–this stew is on the stove as I type.

Rounding out the weekend-long Thanksgiving celebration, my husband and I attended the final turkey dinner–an annual affair hosted by good friends.  The men are given bird-frying duty while everyone else contributes a dish or two to the party.  Yours truly was asked to bring a salad this year and  may I say how relieved I was not to be in charge of the mashed potatoes?  I had a near mishap last year that brought me to tears minutes before leaving for the party only to be rescued by my husband who saved the dish…and the day.  What went wrong with that batch of mashed potatoes I don’t recall now but I was happy not to be given the chance to repeat the experience.

Coming up with ideas for this year’s salad was much more enjoyable.  Even with a few weeks to plan ahead, I knew right away that cranberries would take center stage, given how they’ve inspired me so much this season.  I’ve made cranberry bars with them and also these muffins–it was time for them to shine in a salad.  It wasn’t much of stretch coming up with this idea–I made a few fruity vinaigrettes this summer and I suspected that cranberries would fare well prepared similarly.

The filling I used for the cranberry bars made for the ideal base for this vinaigrette.  It had just the right balance of tart and sweet that the dressing would need.  The only difference?  I passed the cooked cranberries through a sieve to remove the skin and seeds.  All that was left was to add vinegar, olive oil and salt for a holiday-appropriate mix.

I wouldn’t recommend using leftover cranberry sauce that’s been spiced for this recipe because you want only the fruity qualities of the cranberries here.  In fact, this dressing doesn’t scream cranberries at all, just fresh and fruity, so I offer this as a good, year-round recipe and another way to use up those bags of cranberries you bought but didn’t get around to using*.  Don’t we all have them?

*Feel free to use any low-sugar berry jam in place of the cranberries.



5.0 from 8 reviews
Mixed Greens with Apples, Candied Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette
Here is a healthy way to use up those bags of cranberries from Thanksgiving.
Recipe type: Salad
  • For 1 cup of cooked, strained cranberries:
  • 1 12-oz bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅜ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice or lemon juice (feel free to add another tablespoon or two to make it more tart...or reduce the sugar)
  • For the vinaigrette (see directions below for proportions):
  • Olive oil
  • Rice vinegar (a little sweeter but you can also sub red wine or cider vinegar)
  • salt, to taste
  • For the salad:
  • mixed greens
  • Feta cheese, cubed
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Candied pecans (I use Trader Joe's but you can use any nuts)
  • Apple slices
  1. To prepare the cranberries:
  2. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the cranberries and cook over medium to medium-high heat until they pop, about 4-5 minutes. Add the juice and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pass the cooked cranberries to a sieve to separate the skin and seeds. This will yield 1 cup. Set aside.
  3. To prepare the vinaigrette:
  4. There is no strict rule here. Adjust the proportion of oil, vinegar and cranberries to your liking. I started with 2 tablespoons of cranberries to 4 tablespoons of vinegar and ¼ cup of oil. Taste as you go. As you can see from my pictures, mine was light on the vinegar and olive oil so I added more of both after taking these pictures. Whisk together to emulsify.
  5. To assemble the salad:
  6. Toss the vinaigrette with the mixed greens, onions, cheese, apples and nuts--plate and serve.


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  1. I think I just found my new favorite salad, the color of the vinaigrette is so pretty!

  2. I am so sorry for mixing in blog comment action, I missed so much. This is just beautiful and very delicious Jean! I love your food styling and photos making your salad that much more tempting!

  3. Fresh and fruity sounds clean and refreshing after the Thanksgiving binge! (Five turkeys in three days…I’m impressed!) 😀

    Gorgeous salad! Anything with cranberries, no matter how subtle, is spectacular.

  4. What a lovely salad after a heavy weekend of rich foods. I like all these flavors together and that vinegarette goes perfectly.

  5. Cranberry vinaigrette – I LOVE it! Your salad looks gorgeous! Pinning!!

  6. I didn’t have the huge Thanksgiving feast but my waistline could certainly use your salad. I love all the ingredients and the cranberry vinaigrette sounds delicious. I’m going to see if I can find a bag somewhere:)

  7. Gorgeous salad. The dressing sounds perfect for this time of year, and the candied pecans are great for crunch! I just got a giant bag of pecans today, so I might have to get to work 🙂

  8. What an outstanding salad . . . superb vinaigrette! Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  9. A very simple, fresh salad – nothing can beat it. That was a lot of turkey you ate!

  10. mm what a lovely green salad! i have been feeling cranberries this year too…thanks for the tip on what to do with them!

  11. You were one busy lady over the last several days with all of those thanksgiving day celebrations. All sounded divine. This salad is simply perfect for the winter. Love the dressing. (BTW – nice background 😉

  12. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    I’m happy you had such a wonderful holiday weekend filled with people you love and delicious food. After feasting, all I really want is a flavorful and delicious salad like this:)

  13. I love this salad!! This is what I need. I need to eat this 3 times a day for the next two weeks … that Thanksgiving dinner feels like it is still sitting in my belly. 🙂

  14. Your salad is popping off the screen!!! I love the freshness of it ..filled with many of my favorite ingredients;-)
    I would love to reach in and drizzle a spoonful of your cranberry vinaigrette on this luscious plate of fresh greens;-)

  15. I came over from An Edible Mosaic…and I swear I was hypnotized by your header for a few minutes. No kidding. Your photos are Ah-Mazing! And you’re food looks delish. I really want to try this salad. Like you said, we’ve had our share of turkeys and now it’s time for something fresh. This salad is calling my name.

  16. I love the color of the vinaigrette. So pretty and the salad sounds light and perfect for the Thanksgiving feast

  17. This is my kind of fall salad (well I guess it is winter now here in Chicago w/ the cold temps!). I can’t wait to try this out.

  18. What a delightful salad…so refreshing after all the heavy foods of the season!

  19. What a beautiful salad, jean! A healthy salad is definitely a welcomed change this time of year!


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