Holiday Salad with Apple Cider Dressing

Whenever we have a big holiday gathering coming up, we always assign everyone to bring a favorite side dish—usually something like corn casserole, stuffing, green beans, or mashed potatoes. I almost always volunteer to contribute a holiday salad, but somehow I always manage to put off planning it until the very last minute, and then I stress about what should go into it.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.

holiday salad in a bowl with dried cranberries on top

In theory, throwing together a salad should be super easy. Just toss some ingredients together with a delicious dressing, right? The thing is, I always get self-conscious about my own taste in food– will my cheesy-chicken-casserole-loving family love a fresh basil dressing as much as I do? Will they cringe if I add goat cheese to it?

Sure, I could probably keep everything separate and let people add their own toppings and dressings, but then I also feel like they’re missing out on some really delicious flavor combinations that they might not try otherwise. When you’re in a buffet line with a heavy plate in your hand, you might not feel like doing all the work of building your own salad.

That’s why I’m sharing this recipe today. It’s my new go-to holiday salad to bring to any gathering, and it’s such a crowd pleaser that I feel like I never have to worry about what to bring again. It’s a total winner: easy enough to prepare in a hurry– which is crucial to me around the holidays– and it’s got the perfect combination of textures and flavors.

romaine lettuce on a cutting board

The key to this salad’s perfect texture is the shredded lettuce. No one wants to “work” while eating a salad, so I like everything to be chopped up ahead of time. It’s super easy to shred a head of romaine lettuce with a good knife, and that’s basically all you have to do to prepare this salad. (Especially if you buy pre-shredded cabbage, like I do.) Other than that, you just toss in some easy-to-find toppings, throw the dressing ingredients in a blender, and you’re good to go.

Everyone will want to know your recipe after you serve this holiday salad at a party. I brought it to two different Thanksgiving gatherings this year, and everyone wanted to go back for second helpings… of a salad. That huge, in my book. I hope it’s a hit for you, too.

Holiday Salad with Apple Cider Dressing
Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Dressing:
3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons raw honey

3 romaine hearts
1 (12 ounce) bag shredded cabbage (about 4 cups)
1 cup dried cranberries*
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup crumbled gorgonzola
Freshly cracked black pepper, for serving

*Note: Look for dried cranberries that are sweetened with apple juice to avoid any added refined sugar.

Directions:

To prepare the dressing, combine the vinegar, oil, water, dijon, garlic, and honey in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Set aside to let the flavors meld while you assemble the salad.

Use a sharp knife to shred the romaine hearts, then place the shredded romaine in a large serving bowl. Add in the shredded cabbage, cranberries, almonds, and gorgonzola, and toss well.

Dress the salad about 15 minutes before you plan on serving it, to help soften the cabbage a bit. You don’t want to add the dressing too far in advance, or the romaine could get too soggy. Toss everything well, and serve with cracked black pepper, if desired.

bowl of holiday salad with dried cranberries and cheese on top

You can make this salad and dressing up to 48 hours in advance, as long as you don’t pour the dressing over the salad until just before serving. Any leftover dressing can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

5 from 3 votes
Print
My Favorite Holiday Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 min
Total Time
16 mins
 
My go-to salad to bring to holiday gatherings. Everyone loves it!
Course: Salad
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 300 kcal
Author: Detoxinista.com
Ingredients
Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
To assemble:
  • 3 romaine hearts
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag shredded cabbage (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries*
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • Freshly cracked black pepper , for serving
Instructions
  1. To prepare the dressing, combine the vinegar, oil, water, dijon, garlic, and honey in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Set aside to let the flavors meld while you assemble the salad.
  2. Use a sharp knife to shred the romaine hearts, then place the shredded romaine in a large serving bowl. Add in the shredded cabbage, cranberries, almonds, and gorgonzola, and toss well.
  3. Dress the salad about 15 minutes before you plan on serving it, to help soften the cabbage a bit. You don't want to add the dressing too far in advance, or the romaine could get too soggy. Toss everything well, and serve with cracked black pepper, if desired.
  4. You can make this salad and dressing up to 48 hours in advance, as long as you don't pour the dressing over the salad until just before serving. Any leftover dressing can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Recipe Notes

*Look for dried cranberries that are sweetened with apple juice to avoid any added refined sugar.

If you’re serving dairy-free guests, feel free to omit the gorgonzola. I love the complex flavor it adds, but this salad is still delicious without it!

Reader Feedback: Do you have a go-to holiday salad recipe to share at parties? Feel free to share links in the comments below!

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Comments

Sarah | Well and Full

You’re so not the only one who does that!! I was supposed to make a salad for Thanksgiving but totally procrastinated, then stressed about what I was going to make!! :O

Lisa

I love the new blog layout!
Just a few things I can’t find now, is there a way to go to the previous post, there used to be a spot to click before.
And is there a way up top to go to the latest entry?
Thanks for amazing recipes and sharing them with us!!! Can’t wait for the new cookbook to come out!

    Megan Gilmore

    Thank you! I’m still learning all the nuances of this new theme design, but all of my latest posts are on the homepage– just click the Detoxinista logo to be taken there. I’ll have the newest recipe posts in the top 3 spots. 🙂 I haven’t figured out how to do the previous posts yet… I’ll ask my web designer if there’s an easy solution for that.

      Lisa

      Yay! The logo works perfect, I just like to make sure I haven’t miss any!!
      Layout looks really clean and works well on computer and iPhone so far, I’m sure there are so many little things to a webpage that you never have to think about but it’s coming along great 🙂 thanks!!

    Laura ~ Raise Your Garden

    I really like it too! I guess my go-to salad is probably a fruit salad. I mean, I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t love love love fresh fruit any time of year. But any green salad with blueberries or pom arils this time of year wins my heart!!!!

      Megan Gilmore

      Mmm.. I love a good fruit salad, too. My mom actually makes a hot curried fruit dish every year for Christmas brunch, and I totally need to give that recipe a makeover because it’s delicious! But she uses canned fruit, and there has to be a better way. 😉

Karen

This sounds/looks fabulous! Can you recommend any other cheese to replace the Gorgonzola? Thanks!

Jessica

I’m right there with you! I don’t eat meat or dairy, so a nice, hearty salad is my go-to for family get-togethers! I always make a very similar salad, except I use shredded Brussel Sprouts instead of lettuce. You should try it! Even those who “hate” Brussel Sprouts love it!

Janice

Made this last night and it was a hit! Love the crunch the cabbage adds to the salad. And love that it throws together so easy. Thanks Megan! And the new blog design looks awesome!

Laura McKee

This salad is awesome! Used feta cheese instead of gorgonzola (to make it gluten free). Served it along with your Vegan Tuscan Pumpkin pasta. Great combo!

Judi

This salad was so good…and the dressing, let’s just say I’m hooked and have been making and eating this for lunch for over a week and haven’t tired of it at all!! Thank you, thank you

Kim

I made your salad and dressing for Christmas Eve at my sisters and it was a huge hit! My new new go to holiday salad. Thank you!

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