Newsflash! One unexpected Saturday afternoon recently, my husband came home from the gym, headed directly to the kitchen and served himself lunch. Not a shock of course, food is his first second and third love (along with music and, I guess, me). And naturally he went straight for the chicken biryani I had made, but when I looked up to check on him, there was something green and leafy on his plate as well. Could it be? The husband willingly chose, on his own volition, at no one’s request but his own hankering, to eat salad???
You must understand that this is a man who claims to be vegetarian at heart but only eats maybe five veggies at all with any gusto. A man who cringes whenever I mention the S-word at a restaurant. This same man sat there munching, happily proclaiming for all to hear (and by all, I mean me) that this was his favorite salad ever. He not merely endured it, but relished the crisp sweet pleasure that I had concocted with fruitful flare! Oh perhaps I exaggerate slightly but his proclamation was completely true.
I originally made this salad for Thanksgiving dinner, whereby all my friendly guests fell enamored with the simply powerful dressing that brought an exhilaration that greenery had never held in their lives. Hyperbole? I concede it. But then I’ve also never seen my friend Tehniat drool over salad either, so you be the judge. During that evening, the husband was prompted to give a name to this salad, and so that is what I present to thee: the Crisp Cranberry Orange Marriage.
- 1 head of Romaine lettuce, sliced thinly
- 1 cup pre-sliced red cabbage
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 fuji apple, chopped
- 1 granny smith apple, chopped
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- Dash of salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
I love presentation—I live by the charter that we feast with our eyes first, and almost just as equally as with our mouths. This particular salad ensemble is such a colorful rainbow of delight, it literally dances its way into your tummy through mere vision. Of course, as with all else, you can use whatever you like—any berries, nuts, fruits, or veggies (I’ve on occasion used chopped cucumber, sunflower seed/cranberry trail mix, and crushed walnuts for example) but this particular arrangement is a gem, and I wish I could always eat this.
Anyhoo, firstly rinse and chop your lettuce—Slicing the romaine into thin strips blends it in with the slices carrots and cabbage, and allows the other additions to hide in every nook and cranny evenly. I’ve taken to enjoying my homemade salads prepared this way.
In a serving bowl, arrange the lettuce on bottom, then spread the red cabbage next and finally the carrots. Set aside.
Chop the apples, and mix them in a bowl with the almonds and cranberries.
Zest an entire beautifully aromatic navel orange, and then juice it completely. Combine the zest and juice with the juice of half a lemon and the other dressing ingredients, and whisk rapidly until thoroughly combined. Take a quick taste; depending on how sweet your orange is you might want more or less honey.
Take the fruit mixture and add it to the center of the salad mix (I say center because at this point you’ll have created the image of colorful rings, with green of the lettuce on the outside, then purple cabbage and bright orange center of carrots. If you’re serving guests at a dinner, I would save adding the dressing and mixing it until actually served, so they may marvel at the beauty. I know I know, but I get like this sometimes. So if the fruit is added to the very center, it won’t completely cover the rainbow of rings).
Finally, just pour the dressing atop, mixing and tossing and turning. Even after mixed, it’s a beautiful salad, and the fresh orange taste rivals any of the most gourmet dressings you might ever find. Truly seduces every sense: bright colors, fruitful scents, blissful taste, crispy crunch of fruit and greens, and you might likely won’t resist dragging a finger along your plate to dredge of the last remnants of the sweet citrus dressing.