This Mandarin Orange Salad has juicy oranges, crisp apples, sweetened dried cranberries, tangy feta cheese, and easy stovetop candied almonds. A simple citrus vinaigrette that is sweet, tangy, and completely refreshing tops everything off.
8cups (5 oz; 145g)mixed green lettuce or fresh spinach
1can (15 ounces)mandarin oranges(or 3 clementines, peeled and segmented)
2large apples,thinly sliced (we like Fuji best in this salad)
3/4cup (94g)dried sweetened cranberries
3/4cup (90g)crumbled feta
Dressing (Note 1)
1/2cup (98g)olive oil
1largeorange(2 teaspoons zest and 4 tablespoons juice (58g))
1largelemon(1/2 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)
2 and 1/2tablespoonshoney
1/2teaspoonfine sea salt
CANDIEDALMONDS: Place the sliced almonds and white sugar in a large skillet and heat to medium, stirring nearly 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 constantly to avoid burning the nuts. As soon as the sugar turns to liquid, remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring until the nuts are completely coated in the sugar. Spread the candied almonds onto a sheet of parchment paper and let harden. Break apart.
SALAD: Add the lettuce to a large bowl or salad platter. Peel and segment oranges (or drain a can of mandarin oranges) and add to the salad. Thinly slice the apples and, if desired, toss with lemon juice to prevent browning. Add to the salad along with the dried cranberries and feta cheese.
DRESSING: Combine all of the ingredients together in a blender except for the oil and poppy seeds. Blend until all ingredients are well incorporated and zest has broken down. Transfer dressing to a jar with a lid and add in the olive oil and poppy seeds. Place the cover on the jar and shake until well combined.
ENJOY: Right before serving, add the dressing to the salad (add to taste -- you may not need it all) and candied almonds (add as many as you'd like; we typically add about 1/3 cup (See Note 2). Toss and enjoy immediately.
STORAGE: This salad doesn't sit well with the dressing, so only dress what will be enjoyed the same day. Store any leftover salad and dressing separately. Almonds and cheese should also be stored separately. Apples will brown if cut in advance.
Note 1: Dressing: This dressing makes more than you'll likely use for the salad. If you want to make a half recipe (I do this often so nothing goes bad) here it is: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 large orange (1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice), 1 large lemon (1/4 teaspoon zest and 1 tablespoons juice), 1 and 1/4 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, heaping 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1 teaspoon poppy seedsNote 2: Candied almonds: There will be more almonds than you'll need/want for the salad, but sugaring the almonds works best with this volume. Store leftover almonds in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months or in the pantry for 2-3 weeks. Use leftover almonds as a snack, yogurt bowl topping, acai bowl topping, or salad topping.