I have found a use for leftover cranberry sauce. I realize this comes too late for most of you. Once the turkey is gone, it’s hard to know what to do with the cranberry sauce. And by now, Thanksgiving was weeks ago and you probably chucked the sauce. However–
(1) Store-bought cranberry sauce keeps forever. It’s mostly sugar. You never think about your jars of jam going bad.
(2) You might like some the next time you roast a hunk of meat, or some squash, and we have a recipe for you.
(3) They’re still selling cans of it at the store.
In a vinaigrette, cranberry sauce adds sweetness without being cloying (I’m saying this as someone who doesn’t like raspberry vinaigrette). This means that if you don’t have cranberry sauce on hand and you decide to sub some jam, you should use less than I’ve suggested below.
The salad is a pretty obvious winter salad: greens with some crunch, citrus, and nuts. Do whatever you like within that rubric and you’ll end up with a delicious winter salad. It is particularly refreshing after a weekend of eating pasta, chex mix, and donuts.
Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
makes 3/4 C, enough for many salads
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T cranberry sauce or jelly
6 T good olive oil
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and saved, stems discarded
1/2 t kosher salt
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and gently crushed
I make my dressing in an old jar big enough to fit my immersion blender in it. Obviously, you can make this in a proper blender, a food processor, or just in the jar, well shaken. Mix the first five ingredients together and blend. Add the crushed garlic and give the dressing a shake. You can fish out the garlic cloves later (an hour or two is enough), but I’m too lazy and I usually just leave them in the dressing and avoid them as I go.
Simple Winter Salad
serves 1 as a meal salad, 2 as a side salad
3-4 cups greens (I like baby spinach, red leaf lettuce, and sliced endive)
1/3 English cucumber, sliced
1 clementine, peeled and segmented
1 handful chopped pecans
two spoonfuls cranberry vinaigrette
Toast the pecans at 350 for 4ish minutes, until you can smell them. Immediately remove them from the oven and let them cool. Meanwhile, put the rest of the salad fixings in a big bowl and drizzle over the dressing (or plop it on, depending on the viscosity your dressing achieves in the fridge). Add the pecans once they’ve cooled and several grinds of pepper. Toss with tongs (I think it’s easier than salad servers) or with your hands (this works best, actually).
As you can see above, I ate mine recently with a side of toast, globbed with almond butter and blackberry pomegranate jam.
Variations: a Persian cucumber for the partial English one, some grapes in addition to the clementine, some other kind of citrus (I’ve made it recently with Cara Cara oranges, supremed, and they’re great). No one would object to goat cheese either, I imagine.