This delicious winter salad is topped with mandarin oranges, pomegranate arils, candied almonds, sliced avocado, and feta cheese.
Slice the peels off of the oranges and then cut into slices or smaller pieces. You can substitute clementines, but will need to increase the amount. Alternatively mandarin oranges can be used -- thoroughly drain them.
Remove the peel and pit of the avocado. Chop or finely slice. Squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice over the chopped avocado to keep it from browning.
Gently toss together the lettuce, oranges, pomegranate arils, and avocado.
In a large skillet, add the sliced almonds and white sugar. Place the heat to medium-high and stir near constantly. The sugar will begin to melt and become a sticky liquid and then stick to the almonds. This takes about 3-4 minutes -- watch carefully and stir near constantly to avoid burning the nuts. Dump the candied almonds onto a sheet of parchment paper, slightly separate, and let harden. Break apart.
In a blender or food processor, blend all of the dressing ingredients together. The dressing will be runny, but it adheres to the lettuce really well! Increase the flavorings to personal preference - this may be a little more orange or perhaps some more honey...etc. (The cayenne pepper is optional, but a fun kick -- you can increase the amount if desired.) Stir in the poppyseeds if desired.
If you are eating the salad right away, toss it with the dressing, candied almonds, and feta cheese.
If you are eating it later, store the dressing, nuts, and feta separately and toss right before eating. If the dressing is added too early it tends to get soggy and not taste so well. Add the almonds and feta with the dressing.
How *much* of the toppings you add to the salad (feta, oranges, avocado, pomegranate, etc.) is definitely up to personal preferences. I've included the amounts we use, but add to your preferences!