A Beautiful Citrus Salad for Holiday Dinners or Hearty Winter Meals
Ruby red grapefruit and cara cara orange team up with sliced fennel and flecks of kale in our Citrus Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts. The sweet, aromatic citrus brings refreshing balance with a splash of color to hearty winter meals and rich holiday dinners. More than a fruit salad, this side dish packs the nutritional punch of pomegranate, walnuts, and kale too.
We think this healthy Citrus Salad has it all—sweet, savory, crunchy, juicy—and the dressing is fabulous on any salad, so you’re sure to use every drop. Include it in your Thanksgiving menu or toss it together for a holiday party take-along to complement any feast.
Tips for Making the Best Citrus Salad
- Only use the naked pulp, leaving the membrane behind. See the video below. Citrus doesn’t risk browning like other fruit because citric acid keeps it bright and beautiful. However, it does weep if mixed with sugar, vinegar, or salt (also called macerating). Since the dressing recipe includes all three of these ingredients, it is best to apply the dressing just before serving.
- Mix it up with the subtle crunch of nuts or seeds to balance the texture of soft, juicy citrus. If nuts are an allergy issue, toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds are a good alternative. The maple-candied method in the recipe works for seeds too.
- Let (slightly) bitter greens like kale or arugula bring harmony to sweet citrus. Larger pieces of kale are tougher to chew, so it’s important to tear the kale into small pieces or cut into thin ribbons.
- Dot with feta or cotija cheese for hints of savory that perk everything up. Salt is the great equalizer for sweets and feta does its job in both flavor and color as a garnish in this recipe.
When my friend took a bite of this salad, she said, “It tastes like summer!”
She was right, and fortunately every ingredient is at its peak during dreary winter months when we yearn for warmth and golden sunsets.
Citrus Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts and Orange-Dijon Dressing
- Yield: Serves 4, as a side dish
For the Citrus Salad:
- 1 large Cara Cara orange — peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-size segments
- 1 medium ruby red grapefruit — peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-size segments
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel
- 1 1/2 cups torn kale leaves — small pieces
- 1/4 cup walnuts or pecans
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- pinch Sea salt
- feta cheese — for garnish
- pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries — for garnish (optional)
For the Orange-Dijon Dressing:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons flax seed oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons orange juice (try capturing the juice from segmenting the citrus)
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley — minced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon orange zest (from the orange in the salad, is fine)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 dash hot sauce
Note: Zest the orange first. Hold the orange and grapefruit over a bowl while carving out segments to capture extra juice–use juice in dressing.
Toss the orange, grapefruit, fennel, and kale in a mixing bowl to combine. Heat walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat to toast. Once the walnuts begin to brown in spots, add maple syrup and a small pinch of salt; stir to coat. Continue stirring until the syrup thickens and clings to the walnuts. Remove from heat and spread out on a sheet of wax paper to cool.
Prepare dressing by mixing the ingredients in a cruet or jar with a lid and shake. (Can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)
Just before serving, toss walnuts with salad and garnish with pomegranate and feta. Pour enough dressing over to salad to lightly coat while gently tossing.
The dressing will cause the citrus to release its juices a little, so if the dressing will be on the salad for more than 30 minutes before serving, use a little less dressing. Any added juice from the citrus will incorporate by tossing gently again just before serving.
More Salad Recipes:
Bid Winter Adieu with Spinach-Strawberry Salad
Curry Chicken Salad on Spring Greens
Baby Arugula with Blueberries and Walnuts
Fried Goat Cheese and Grilled Beet Salad
Cranberry-Avocado Turkey Salad