I adore dried cranberries! They have the concentrated sweet flavor of fresh cranberries, but with less of the lip-puckering sourness. I have used them in biscotti, relishes, quick breads and many more recipes as they are always available. A recipe for a dried cranberry, green grape and toasted pine nut salad caught my eye in an Italian cooking magazine that I had recently bought. However, as I have reading material with me when I have any appointment that would require my sitting and waiting, I managed to leave the magazine at my exercise class where it disappeared over the weekend. I remembered all the ingredients for the salad, but drew a blank when it came to the dressing. Racking my brain for a suitable dressing, I remembered that I had oranges and I knew they went very well with cranberries. Here is my version of the salad I saw in the magazine, but first, a little bit of information on cranberries.
Drying cranberries is just one way to preserve the very perishable once a year crop of fresh cranberries. Cranberry juice is a very popular drink and is touted to prevent urinary tract infections. A white cranberry juice is made by harvesting the cranberries about three weeks before they turn red, but are still mature. Commercial sweetened dried cranberries are made using food processing methods not available to the home cook. A big surprise to me when I began researching dried cranberries was that Wisconsin, not Massachusetts produced about one half of the United States annual crop of fresh cranberries.
Whether or not, this tasty little berry was served at America’s first Thanksgiving in 1621 will never be known for there is no record of what was served at the actual feast. However, the Native Americans ate many different berries, so the cranberry could have possible been on the menu. I would like to think so. For more information on cranberries, go here
6 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup halved green seedless grapes
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Combine greens, dried cranberries and seedless grapes. Toss with small amount of dressing just to coat leaves and top salad with toasted pine nuts and the crumbled goat cheese. Pass remaining dressing at table.
Orange Honey Dijon Salad Dressing
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
2/3 cup olive oil
On cutting board, mash garlic and salt together. Place in bowl, whisk in orange juice, Dijon mustard, honey and orange zest. When combined, whisk in olive oil until dressing is emulsified. Whisk in zest. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Salad serves six. Thinly sliced red onion would be a great addition to this salad as would segmented orange slices.