Fruit & Nut Salad Wreath with Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

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his Fruit and Nut Salad with a sweet Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe will make a great appetizer and holiday meal idea. It pairs nicely with STOUFFER'S Lasagna for a red and green Christmas tablescape. Plus, see how to serve it in a festive DIY wreath display! Great for Pinning Image Pin It ButtonThe holiday season can be a very busy time. We just made it through Thanksgiving–all that food prep from a giant turkey to homemade cranberry sauce to pan-fried green beans. Of course I still enjoyed the holiday with family, I mean, cooking is a big part of this holiday; but for Christmas I need something easy and filling like STOUFFER’S® Family Size Entrées Lasagna and NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Hot Cocoa Refrigerated Cookie Dough so I can spend more time sitting around watching movies, opening gifts, and sipping homemade hot chocolate (or NESTLÉ ABUELITA Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate Drink Tablets) with my boys.

STOUFFER'S and NESTLE Toll HouseSavory lasagna, sweet cookies, rich hot chocolate…all that’s missing is a light, nutritious appetizer. I really wanted to prepare something that would make this a complete and wholesome meal. The lasagna with meat sauce already has grain, vegetable, dairy, and protein, and the cookies make for a delicious dessert, so all that is missing is fruit.

Did I mention that I absolutely love decorating for Christmas? I am doing a red and green color scheme this year, so of course I have to bring some of that to the table. Since our main course is a red sauce pasta dish, I wanted to add some green. I opted for a fruit and nut salad, shaped into a wreath, with homemade cranberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing. This dish is so delicious and surprisingly quick and simple to pull together, which is exactly what everyone needs during the busy holidays.

NESTLÉ® products are perfect to stock up on for holiday gatherings because they offer so many different sizes, varieties, and types of foods. I love hot cocoa, so I was especially excited to try that flavor of their refrigerated cookies. They have marshmallow inside the cookies. Oh. Man. Yum.

To display the cookies in a fun and festive way, I top one baked cookie with some mini marshmallows and stick it back in the oven on the broiler setting for just a couple of minutes, watching closely until the marshmallows got a nice golden brown on them. Let that cookie cool on the pan for a few minutes then stack all the cookies on top of each other in a mug-inspired shape with the marshmallow-covered cookie on the top. I happen to love cinnamon with hot cocoa, so I sprinkled a little bit over the cookie stack for a decadent dessert.

NESTLE Toll House Hot Cocoa CookiesSTOUFFER’S® makes it so simple to enjoy lasagna the way you’d make it. Seriously, it is delicious. Oh, and of course it was way not as messy as when I make lasagna which means less cleanup (and more time to enjoy your family after the meal as well.) I love that they have a “large family” size because it makes just the right amount for our family and a guest or two. It really pairs nicely with the fruit and nut salad.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh kale
  • 1 cup fresh swiss chard
  • 1/2 an apple, chopped (about 1/2 cup–I used a green apple)
  • 1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles

Directions

1. Combine the water, sugar, lemon zest and whole cranberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring very frequently, until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat once completed.

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath Cranberry Balsamic Dressing Step 12. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and salt.

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath Cranberry Balsamic Dressing Step 23. Whisk the slightly cooled cranberry preserves into the oil and vinegar base. Set aside to cool. This dressing is “berry” delicious and delightfully seasonal.

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath Cranberry Balsamic Dressing Step 3HACK: For a festive food display, use a round chip and dip tray with the dip bowl in the center. I used a green one. Add a fabric bow at the bottom and it will look like a beautiful wreath!

4. Place the spinach, kale, and swiss chard leaves around the inside of the chip bowl to judge how the greens fit into the wreath. Keep in mind the volume of the leaves will go down once the salad is prepared, so add more if needed.

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath Step 15. Transfer the greens into a large mixing bowl.

6. Add in the fruits (apple, mandarin oranges, and dried cranberries.)

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath Step 47. Add the pecans then the feta crumbles.

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath Step 58. Toss the mixture well then move it back into the chip part of the chip and dip tray.

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath Step 69. Give the dressing another great mix and transfer half into the center bowl. Store the extra vinaigrette in a clean glass bottle until it is time to serve. This is what I did–I moved the dressing mixture into a cup with a spout to pour then dumped it carefully into a clean glass beverage bottle I’d saved, this way I can store it easily and simply shake it up when we’re ready for it. Store the dressing on the counter if you will be using it soon or in the refrigerator overnight. The mixture may gel up more when refrigerated, due to the oils and the cranberry preserves; if it does and you cannot mix it, let it sit out on the counter for a bit to return it to room temperature and you will be golden.

DIY Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath with Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, the perfect appetizer for your Christmas dinner.10. Serve the salad with a drizzle of dressing on top alongside a delicious slice of STOUFFER’S® Family Size Entrées Lasagna and top the meal off with NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Hot Cocoa cookies!

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath Pair with STOUFFER'S Lasagna*Nutrition data below generated using SELF Nutrition Data, each item entered manually to ensure accuracy. Nutrition data based off of HALF of the salad dressing, not the full amount, as that is what the recipe calls for. Keep in mind, the nutrition data counts may change depending on brands and varieties used (for instance, I didn’t use the fully sweetened dried cranberries used to generate these counts, but instead opted for the reduced sugar variety.)

Salad
 
Cook time
Total time
 
This sweet and zesty salad is refreshingly fruity with crisp and crunchy texture from the apples and nuts. It pairs perfectly with savory entrees like STOUFFER'S® Lasagna.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup whole cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh kale
  • 1 cup fresh swiss chard
  • ½ an apple, chopped (about ½ cup--I used a green apple)
  • ½ cup mandarin oranges, drained and chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles
Instructions
  1. Combine the water, sugar, lemon zest and whole cranberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring very frequently, until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat once completed.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oils, vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and salt.
  3. Whisk the slightly cooled cranberry preserves into the oil and vinegar base. Set aside to cool.
  4. Place the spinach, kale, and swiss chard leaves around the inside of the chip bowl to judge how the greens fit into the wreath. Keep in mind the volume of the leaves will go down once the salad is prepared, so add more if needed.
  5. Transfer the greens into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Add in the fruits (apple, mandarin oranges, and dried cranberries.)
  7. Add the pecans and feta crumbles.
  8. Toss the mixture well then move it back into the chip part of the chip and dip tray.
  9. Give the dressing another great mix and transfer half into the center bowl. Store the extra vinaigrette in a clean glass bottle until it is time to serve. This is what I did--I moved the dressing mixture into a cup with a spout to pour then dumped it carefully into a clean glass beverage bottle I'd saved, this way I can store it easily and simply shake it up when we're ready for it. Store the dressing on the counter if you will be using it soon or in the refrigerator overnight. The mixture may gel up more when refrigerated, due to the oils and the preserves; if it does and you cannot mix it, let it sit out on the counter for a bit to return it to room temperature and you will be golden.
  10. Serve the salad with a drizzle of dressing on top!
Notes
*For a festive food display, use a round chip and dip tray with the dip bowl in the center. I used a green one. Add a fabric bow at the bottom and it will look like a beautiful wreath!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: about 1 cup Calories: 212 Fat: 18g Saturated fat: 4g Trans fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 12g Sugar: 8g Sodium: 149mg Fiber: 2g Protein: 3g Cholesterol: 8mg

We really enjoyed this meal in our house and will be having it again. It is so much less stressful than having everything completely homemade and and still provides great quality food with great flavor. I am able to focus on family time and the reason for the season rather than on all the tasks ahead–food prep and cleanup. Can you believe it–my kids, 5-years-old and 2-years-old, both loved the lasagna and they even ate the salad! Talk about a Christmas miracle. They both love fruit, so adding that definitely helped. It feels so wonderful to be able to serve a delicious and nutritious meal that everyone actually eats and not even have to do a whole lot.

Fruit and Nut Salad Wreath with Cranberry Balsamic VinaigretteWhat is your favorite family recipe to serve for the holidays? What is your favorite seasonal activity? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below then visit the Flavorful Moments Pinterest board for more wonderful recipes!

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Written by Alyssa Darby

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6 Comments

  1. What a festive recipe! It looks so delicious – and healthy too which is a bonus around the holidays when we are eating a lot more!! I can’t wait to try this!

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  5. I love the idea of Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing, I’m using it for next get together party.

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