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Orange, Artichoke, and Pistachio Salad : A Thanksgiving Salad Story

I created this festive salad to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. As you probably would have guessed, the fate of any salad on Thanksgiving day is a sad one. People scurry on down the line, piling high the mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, turkey, and stuffing, and ladle on a river of gravy, for good measure. Then they get to the salad, glance at their burgeoning plates with one eyebrow askew, walk briskly by the giant bowl of greenery, and sit down. I can’t blame them- I did the same thing! It is Thanksgiving, and no one ever says, “My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the salad” after all. (Thanksgiving salads are weeping all over America, people). 

However, this is a delicious salad, Thanksgiving or any other wintry day. It contrasts navel orange acidity, with gems of salted pistachios, little bursts of sugary-tart dried cranberries, and the je-ne-sais-quoi meatiness of artichoke hearts. This mixture lays atop a bed of romaine and spring mix, and is lined with a halo of chopped parsley, adding a touch more brightness.  

Here everything is, all lined up (sans glorious orange). 


I whipped up an easy balsamic vinaigrette to go with this, but I imagine a cider vinaigrette, honey mustard, or yogurt dressing of sorts would go with this beautifully. If you are so inclined, chunks of feta would make for a nice briney addition.

Luckily, a bunch of people took bagfuls of this home, so no, I won’t be eating this salad for every meal this week. 

Orange, Artichoke, and Pistachio Salad
Serves 4-15 (4: main course salad, 15: side salad)

Ingredients

  • 2 romaine hearts, washed and chopped into bitesize strips
  • 4-6 cups of spring mix
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped into half-moons
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped 
  • 2 oranges
  • 3/4 of a 15 oz can of quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup shelled, salted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Take an extremely large bowl, and fill it with the romaine and spring mix. Toss together. Layer on the cucumber and celery.
  2. Using a sharp knife, peel the orange by slicing off strips of peel, being careful not to remove too much flesh. Now, glide your knife close to a white segment separator. Glide it on the other side of the segment, and remove the segment. Voila, a lovely peeled orange piece with no nasty white pith. Repeat this until the whole orange is sectioned off. (My sister said what remains looks like a fish skeleton. Mmm, yummy.)Repeat with the other orange.
  3. Lay the orange pieces on the salad, along with the artichoke hearts.
  4. Sprinkle on the dried cranberries and pistachios. Top with red onion, parsley, salt, and pepper. (Hold off on the salt if you are not serving this right away.) Dress with balasmic vinaigrette, recipe below. Feast on!
Garlic-kissed Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 1 to 1.25 cups

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
Directions
  1. Add everything to a dressing shaker. Use the lower olive oil amount if you like your dressing with a bit more acidity. Shake, shake, shake until a thick, glossy dressing emerges.
Notes: If you are serving this as a main dish salad, add a protein component, such as cooked lentils or chickpeas. A nice, crusty piece of bread with a schmear of butter, or a baked sweet potato completes the meal. I served this with balsamic vinaigrette, but any other vinaigrette, honey mustard dressing, or yogurt dressing, would go well.

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