This Cranberry Orange Pecan Salad features seasonal ingredients that are brightened up with an amazing orange honey vinaigrette! The delicate balance of flavors create a satisfying salad that you can upgrade to a main course by adding protein like chicken or shrimp.
I don’t do boring salads. To be clear, this doesn’t mean I enjoy complicated salads, because no one has time for that. The way I see it, good salads should have a few basic ingredients that all pack an intense flavor punch and are beautiful to look at.
This cranberry orange pecan salad is a perfect example of a salad that packs an intense flavor punch. Cranberries add tartness and crunch, arugula adds bitterness, oranges add sweetness, and pecans and goat cheese add earthiness and fat. It makes me want to eat my greens instead of the heavier winter cuisine that often starts calling me when it’s dark and bitterly cold outside.
How To Make Cranberry Orange Pecan Salad (Notes)
- You can substitute dried cranberries in this salad, but I highly recommend using fresh if they’re available. They add a wonderful tartness and crunch.
- I used blood oranges, but you can use any type of orange in this salad (clementines would also be good). Blood oranges taste almost identical to regular oranges (maybe with a hint of grapefruit). They’re gorgeous to look at and add a hint of drama.
- You can save time by purchasing pre-toasted pecans. Some stores sell candied pecans, which would also be very tasty. You can usually find those sold near the cheese counter. Even better, you can make your own candied pecans.
- Add grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu to upgrade this salad to a main course!
What Are Orange Supremes?
Orange supremes are simply orange segments that have been peeled and sliced, separating the orange from the white pith instead of leaving the entire wedge in place.
Here’s a tutorial from Rachel Ray demonstrating how to supreme an orange with step-by-step photos. It does take a few extra minutes, but the results are beautiful and less chewy since the pith is completely removed. If this looks like too much work, you can simply divide the orange into regular wedges or peeled slices.
How to Toast Pecans
This recipe calls for toasted pecans. You can purchase them pre-toasted, but I like to save money by purchasing nuts in bulk (pecans in particular have gotten super expensive!), storing them in the freezer, and toasting them as needed. Here’s what you do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spread the pecans in a single layer.
- Place in the oven and roast, stirring and gently flipping over occasionally, until fragrant and golden. Depending on the quantity, toasted pecans usually take anywhere from 6-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them once they start changing color and/or you can smell them to avoid burning.
Alternately, you can roast them on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring or swirling the pan occasionally. This requires more attention since there’s direct heat on the bottom, but sometimes I find it faster since the oven doesn’t need to be preheated.
More Salad Recipes
You can also see my full archive of salad recipes here!
Cranberry Orange Pecan Salad
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (I recommend halving or coarsely chopping them)
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans, whole or coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup honey orange vinaigrette (recipe here)
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 medium oranges, supremed or peeled and separated into wedges
- 1/4 -1/2 tablespoons soft goat cheese, crumbled
- Place the arugula, cranberries, and pecans in a large bowl. Toss with 3-4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette (shake it first), then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the salad onto 4 serving plates and top evenly with the orange supremes (about 4-5 per salad) and crumbled goat cheese. Serve immediately.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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