The cranberry vinaigrette in this recipe is a variation of the one in a salad in The Kosher Palette, one of our favorite cookbooks. I was inspired to experiment with this as Thanksgiving approached and I was looking for holiday-themed ingredients and recipes. Cranberries are abundant right now and their unique flavor and beautiful color are welcome additions to our holiday tables. You can make the vinaigrette in advance and store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature and whisk briefly before serving. To add a nutty flavor, see the variations at the end of the basic recipe. This vinaigrette, with its strong but still sweet flavor, is a perfect dressing for the sharpness of fresh arugula. You can also use other mildly bitter salad greens, such as dandelion greens, or a combination. The red color of the vinaigrette and the dark green of the lettuces look lovely on a glass plate. For added flavor, color, and texture, I like to add some dried cranberries and a sprinkling of toasted nuts.
Ingredients for Basic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 or more cups of fresh arugula (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)
Dried cranberries (optional)
Toasted nuts, whole or in pieces (optional)
Process the cranberries in a food processor until mostly smooth. Add the vinegar, onion, sugar, and mustard and process again until well-blended, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. While the processor is running, slowly add the oil and then the water. Continue processing until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, and refrigerate if not serving soon.
This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of vinaigrette, enough for 8-10 servings.
Serve the salad on individual plates and drizzle the vinaigrette on top, or pass the vinaigrette in a sauce server.
1. Use 1/2 cup macadamia nut oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and sprinkle with roasted macadamia nuts and dried cranberries – yummy!
2. Use 1/2 cup walnut oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and sprinkle with toasted walnut pieces. (This is the variation in The Kosher Palette.)
3. Use the basic vinaigrette with all vegetable oil, and sprinkle with dried cranberries and toasted pecans.
Arugula Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette