Maple Mandarin Vinaigrette

Have you ever made your own salad dressing before? For most people, the answer is likely “no”. It may seem unattainable, unnecessarily fancy, or complicated. After all there are shelves and shelves full of ready-to-eat salad dressings in every supermarket. Hopefully, this recipe will change your mind and introduce you to the wonderful world of homemade salad dressing.

If you’ve yet to make salad dressing, my Maple Mandarin Vinaigrette is a great one to try first! It is fresh, zesty, and has depth. The warm, homey maple syrup contrasts with the bright, acidic citrus. This stuff is seriously good. And I’ve never seen this flavor in the store before. Dress some salad with it. Pour it over some roasted vegetables. Marinade some chicken before grilling. Right now, my favorite way to eat this dressing is drizzled over my Harvest Salad (previous post and pictured below); the two are a perfect match! With a handful of ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, you can make this Maple Mandarin Vinaigrette in 3 minutes. That’s all – 3 minutes! And in as much time as it takes you to check the mail, you’ll have a fresh, original flavor of salad dressing which has all real-food ingredients!

Have you ever stopped to read the ingredients on the pre-made bottles of salad dressing? With very few exceptions, salad dressings have become a magnet for all sorts of cheap, processed ingredients not found in nature. Many dressings include several of these all in the same bottle – even brands promoting themselves as healthy and natural! From the very base of the dressing- the oil (ex: soy, canola, safflower) to “natural flavors,” which by the way are really essentially the same as artificial flavors, to “spices” (another umbrella term preventing transparency in our food supply), to emulsifiers, thickeners, preservatives and so forth. 

No, thank you! I don’t mind giving my dressing a quick shake before I pour. And I’ve got 6 ingredients, a jar, and 3 minutes to make this dressing. How about you?

Maple Mandarin Vinaigrette

Savory-sweet vinaigrette style salad dressing which comes together in minutes. (AIP option, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time3 mins
Total Time3 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3 mandarin oranges, juice of
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a glass jar. Shake vigorously until completely mixed and has an even, consistent appearance.

Notes

May prepare in advance. Store in refrigerator. Lasts for at least 1 week.
Serving recommendation: dressing on my Harvest Salad.
AIP option: omit dijon mustard.

Harvest Salad

This salad truly tastes like a celebration of Fall in a bowl, and it comes together with only minutes of hands-on cooking time. In the midst of the busyness of the holidays, we all seem to have an abundance of “extras” on our to-do lists while treats persistently loom nearby. The temptation to over-indulge is sky high! As a result, the question of “what to eat?” sometimes feels more daunting than usual. Have no worries, friends, this salad will keep you nourished, satisfied, and back to the holiday festivities in a flash! And it’s seriously delish. 

Seasonal fruits are the true jewels of this Harvest Salad. Their flavors are sweet and tart and there’s something undeniable about their visual appeal. Crisp juicy apples are, for many people, the quintessential autumnal fruit. An abundance of varieties are readily available in stores now – take advantage and try something new! The satisfying chew and bursts of flavor from dried cranberries can’t be beat! Roasted brussels sprouts and red onion contribute savory saltiness and a bit of a bite. A mix of three kinds of salad greens, arugula, spinach, and butter lettuce, keeps the salad base interesting. The greens have a mix of crunchy and delicate textures. Mild flavor from the butter lettuce and a peppery spiciness from the arugula. Top that all off with some crunchy pumpkin seeds, and you’ve got yourself a real salad. No boring, wimpy salad here! 

Another convenience is that ingredients can effortlessly be swapped out depending on what’s on hand or your taste preferences. Swap pears for apples, cherries for cranberries, carrots for brussels sprouts, or almonds for pumpkin seeds. So many possibilities, surely there’s something for everyone!

I highly recommend topping this salad with my Maple Mandarin Vinaigrette (post coming soon). The sweet-savory flavor perfectly compliments this Harvest Salad and adds to the all-things-fall feel. Even if you’re in a time crunch, this dressing comes together in under 5 minutes and really “makes” this salad! Top with some shredded rotisserie chicken or goat cheese, if dairy is tolerated,  to quickly turn this salad into a stand-alone meal. Enjoy!

Harvest Salad

Crisp salad greens topped with roasted brussels sprouts, seasonal fruit, red onion and pumpkin seeds. Pairs beautifully with a savory-sweet dressing such as my Maple Mandarin Vinaigrette. (AIP option, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Harvest Salad

  • 1 big handful arugula
  • 1 big handful spinach
  • 2 big handfuls butter lettuce
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 pound brussels sprouts, halved or quartered depending on size
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread brussel sprouts on a baking sheet. Coat brussels sprouts with olive oil, and shake pan to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven for about 25 minutes, giving the pan a shake about every 10 minutes to move the sprouts around, until brussels sprouts are moderately browned and tender. Remove from oven. Allow to cool.
  • Assemble salad in a large bowl- adding greens, red onion, roasted brussels sprouts, apple slices, dried cranberries, and sprinkling with pumpkin seeds on top.
  • At time of serving, drizzle desired amount of dressing on top. 

Notes

Dressing recommendation: my Maple Mandarin Vinaigrette.
Best enjoyed the day prepared. May prepare in advance. If doing so, add dressing at time of serving to keep lettuce crisp.
Will last a day or two in the refrigerator.
AIP option - omit pumpkin seeds