Cranberry Lime Rickeys

Cranberry Lime RickeysI have a confession to make: there was a brief period of time in my early 20’s when I lied and told everyone I met that I was from Rhode Island. I had recently quit my job, moved to Brooklyn, dyed my hair just shy of black, and gone back to school to become a Serious Writer. Rhode Island, while not exactly exotic, was at least a little bit quirkier and more interesting then where I am actually from: Massachusetts. The suburb where we grew up was close enough to the Rhode Island boarder that my brother and I went to a private high school in Providence. (To this day, he maintains that the drives back and forth on I-95 in the months after I got my license rank among the most harrowing experiences of his life.) At any rate, I figured that was close enough. It was just a little fib.

But lately I’ve felt bad about it. Not for lying, exactly, but for being embarrassed of my Massachusetts roots. The truth is, though I loathe the term, I’m a card-carrying Masshole. The street I grew up on was just past a rotary, and you could hear the roar of the Patriots’ stadium through the woods in our backyard. I ate Hoodsies and drank frappes, and most of my birthday parties featured Papa Gino’s pizza. I love the Red Sox, those Friendly’s watermelon ice cream cakes, and I will take a Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla coffee over an artisanal roast any day of the week. So there you have it.

I also have a special place in my heart for a traditional Massachusetts beverage: the raspberry lime rickey, an exceeding sweet, bright red fountain soda. If I had to choose a last meal on Earth, it just might be a grilled cheese sandwich, a raspberry lime rickey, and a chocolate-vanilla soft serve twist for dessert from the Bubbling Brook in Westwood.

While I would never claim to have bested the classic, I have to say that this recipe for Cranberry Lime Rickeys is wicked pretty damn good. I simmered some fresh cranberries with sugar and water and strained it to make a syrup. Then I added a whole cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, plus some water to mellow it out. To make each drink, you just pour some of the cranberry-lime mixture into a glass and top with club soda.

Dare I say it’s the perfect Thanksgiving drink? You can customize it for everyone. Use club soda or ginger ale for the kiddos and non-drinkers, and sparkling wine (the cheap stuff is totally fine) for the adult imbibers. You could also do a vodka-club soda mix, if you want to hit the hard stuff.

You can make the base for this up to a week in advance. Taste and if it’s too tart for you, add up to 1/4 cup simple syrup (simmer equal parts sugar and water). Store it in a pitcher in the fridge.

Cranberry Lime Rickeys
Makes approximately 7 cups of base, which is about 10-14 servings when mixed

For the cranberry-lime base:
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
5 cups water
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

For serving (choose any of the following):
Club soda
Ginger ale
Sparkling wine

Combine the cranberries, sugar, and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until the cranberries are completely soft and beginning to break down, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the mixture into a pitcher and discard the solids. Add the lime juice and remaining 3 cups of water. Refrigerate until well chilled.

To serve, pour some of the base into a glass with ice and top with club soda, ginger ale, or sparkling wine. Or, add 1 ounce of vodka and top off with club soda.

Refrigerator Brussels Sprout Pickles

Refrigerator Brussels Sprout PicklesThe first real dinner party I ever threw was definitely a learning experience. I went totally overboard and made about a million different hors d’ouevres. I can’t remember them all, but I think there was a fig and olive tapenade, some type of bruschetta, a huge cheese and charcuterie platter, veggies and hummus, and possibly spiced nuts (homemade, of course). For the main course I made shrimp and chorizo paella. It was absolutely delicious, and nobody ate it. Everyone was so stuffed from all the appetizers that they just sort of poked at the paella on their plates, maybe managing a tiny forkful or two. When the party was over, we had an absurd amount of leftovers. Alex was eating paella for lunch for over a week. It’s the only time I’ve ever heard him complain about too much chorizo.

These days my approach as a hostess is much more refined. I purposely limit the appetizers I serve with drinks, because I want my guests to actually be hungry when we sit down to dinner. My go-to recipes are Giada’s rosemary and olive oil popcorn, the cheese and black pepper crackers from my second cookbook, and either olives or some kind of fancy pickle. That’s it. No baugettes and brie. No chips and guacamole. Definitely no pigs or blankets of any kind.

That’s why I’m so pumped to see the relish tray making a big comeback this holiday season. What is a relish tray? It’s basically a really light spread of crudite, some kind of relish or dip, and olives, pickles, or giardiniera. Your grandma is probably quite familiar with the concept. It’s a classic, and I think it should be part of your Thanksgiving this year, possibly in place of your pimento cheese ball and gut-busting spinach-artichoke dip.

These Brussels sprout pickles would make a perfect modern relish tray addition. (For more ideas check out these recipes from Rick Rodgers!) Peppercorns, mustard seeds, garlic, bay leaves, and a few sprigs of fresh dill are packed in a jar (you could also use an empty plastic quart container) with halved sprouts, and then submerged in a cider vinegar brine. Two days later they are ready to go. The whole recipe takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. What could be easier than that? Leftovers will last for a least a few weeks in the fridge. Alternatively, you could process jars in a hot water bath, in which case they would keep for about a year on the shelf.

Brussels sprouts are usually sold at the supermarket in either 12-ounce bags or 8-ounce containers. This recipe will work with 12 or 16 ounces.

Refrigerator Brussels Sprout Pickles
Makes 3/4 to 1 pound
Adapted from Marisa McClellan

12 to 16 ounces Brussels sprouts
20 whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves (preferably fresh but dried is OK)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt (do not use table salt)

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise through the core and put them in a big Mason jar or plastic quart container (you could also divide the ingredients between two jars). Add the peppercorns, mustard seeds, garlic, bay leaves, and dill. In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil and simmer until the salt dissolves. Pour the mixture over the Brussels sprouts. Let cool to room temperature, then seal the jar or container and transfer to the refrigerator. Allow the pickles to brine for at least two days before eating. The pickles will last for at least a few weeks in the fridge.

Corn Soup with Coconut-Lime Cream

Corn Soup with Coconut-Lime CreamI had grand plans for today’s recipe, but Owen was sick all last week and this past weekend. So instead of a big, fancy Thanksgiving-type dish, I have this quick and simple 10-minute corn soup. I don’t mean to sound negative! It’s actually really delicious, and kind of perfect for a rainy Monday the week before the biggest cooking day of the year. With all the slaving we’re going to be doing in the kitchen next week, we should probably take it really easy on ourselves beforehand, right?

Is it weird that I think of corn as autumnal? I know it’s technically in season in the summer, but it is seems so symbolic of New England, and the harvest season. What could better on a chilly, windy fall day than a big bowl sweet, creamy corn soup? I give this version a quick and unexpected twist with a swirl of coconut-lime cream.

My elementary school used to have a community-wide “Simple Meal” the day before Thanksgiving. It was always soup and cornbread. Those meals are some of my most cherished memories from growing up. (The song we sang is the same one I sing to Owen every night before bed.) So soup the night before Thanksgiving is a tradition I’m keeping for my own family.

The flavor of this soup improves with time, so feel free to make it two or three days in advance.

Corn Soup with Coconut-Lime Cream
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots (about 1 large shallot)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (16-ounce) packages frozen corn
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4-5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (full fat; don’t use light)
Freshly grated zest of 1 lime plus 1-2 tablespoons lime juice

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Stir in the corn, salt, and pepper. Add 4 cups of the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Let the blender run for a good long time to really work through all the fibrous bits of corn. Stir in up to 1 more cup of vegetable broth until soup is desired consistency.

Carefully open the can of coconut milk and scoop out “cream” on top. Discard the watery mixture in the bottom half of the can (or reserve it for smoothies). Stir in the lime zest and lime juice to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with dollops of the coconut lime cream.

Ina’s Apple Chutney

Ina's Apple ChutneyWhen I was twenty two and working at my first job as an editorial assistant in the cookbook division of a big publishing house, I used to come home every day and flop on the couch with a bag of soy chips, a jar of salsa, and a glass of wine and turn on The Barefoot Contessa. My roommate’s boyfriend teased me for spending all day editing recipes only to unwind at night by watching a cooking show (“Don’t you do anything else?!”), but I dismissed his comments. He just wasn’t enlightened about food. The closest I ever saw him come to cooking was the time I caught him using my blender as a bong.

Back then, I loved Ina because I was just learning how to cook and her recipes were short and simple and yielded big, bold results. As a novice, I found preparing her food encouraging. Yes! I could make macaroni and cheese from scratch. Yes! I could bake a show-stopping coconut cake. Yes! I could mix a mean Bloody Mary. Each dish I mastered was like finding a new foothold on the steep and treacherous climb to adulthood. Maybe I didn’t know how to file my taxes or launder my sweaters, but I could whisk up a perfectly bracing lemon vinaigrette, and I knew to pour it in the bottom of the bowl and then add the lettuce and toss, like the French did. That was something.

Also, I had just graduated from college in rural Maine and moved directly to New York City–a huge change that left me reeling. Watching Ina’s show provided instant distraction and relief. It was like going over to my best friend’s house and hanging out with her mom in the kitchen–if she lived in a mansion in the Hamptons and had tons of fabulous gay friends.

Even though I’m a much more accomplished cook these days, I’m still a huge Ina fan. (I even named my first born after her!) So of course I bought her new cookbook about 10 minutes after it came out. The first thing I made was this apple chutney, and naturally it was flawless. I intended to save it for our Thanksgiving cheese plate, but we can’t stop eating it and now there isn’t enough left.

This chutney will keep for at least two weeks in the fridge. I like to serve it on toasted bread spread with a little tofu cream cheese. I’m also planning to make another batch next month to use as a topping for my Hanukkah latkes.

Ina’s Apple Chutney
Makes 6 cups
Adapted from Ina Garten

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 juice oranges)
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup raisins

Combine the apples, onion, ginger, orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes and salt and in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins.

Butternut Squash Rounds with Hazelnut-Apple Gremolata

Butternut Squash Rounds with Hazelnut-Apple GremolataI lived in Brooklyn for seven years, and Manhattan for three years before that. In all those 10 years, I grilled exactly one time. Alex and I borrowed our friend Sarah’s tiny portable grill and set it up behind our building. It worked great, but the experience was a bit lacking. Instead of sipping beers and watching the sunset, we were running up and down the stairs from our apartment and crouching in front of the trash bins.

One of the best parts of our move to Westchester is definitely that we now have a backyard, a deck, and a real, full-sized grill. And while we made our fair share of burgers, steaks, and fish this past summer, what we were most excited about were the smoky, charred vegetables. Perhaps our favorite thing was a grilled version of this eggplant dish, from the amazing Smitten Kitchen.

I was thinking about that recipe last week, and imagining how I could fall-ify it. Grilling was out (unfortunately), roasting was in, and I knew I wanted to use butternut squash as a base. I played around with various toppings (including an apple chutney which we will talk about later) before landing on a bright, zippy gremolata.

Unfamiliar? Gremolata is basically an Italian salsa, traditionally made with parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. There are lots of variations, some with cheese, others with nuts. I included tart Granny Smith apple to compliment the sweet butternut squash. Hazelnuts add delicious toasty crunch, and a drizzle of olive oil binds everything together.

This dish would make a lovely first course for Thanksgiving. It’s also great as a side, or a light main dish paired with a green salad. You can roast the squash ahead and reheat in a low oven. The gremolata can be prepared ahead, too, though the hazelnuts may loose a tiny bit of crunch. If you don’t have hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, or walnuts would make great substitutes.

Butternut Squash Rounds with Hazelnut-Apple Gremolata
Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 to 8 as a side

For the butternut squash:
1 large or two small butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the gremolata:
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and cooled
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely diced (1 cup)
Zest of 1 lemon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the squash in half crosswise, separating the neck from the bulb. Reserve the bulb for another use. Peel the neck and cut it crosswise into 3/4-inch thick slices. You should have at least 8 rounds. Toss with the olive oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping once halfway though, until the center of each round is tender when pierced with a knife. (At this point, if you want to give the squash nice charred edges, run it under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.)

While the squash roasts, make the gremolata. Combine the hazelnuts, parsley, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the apple, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

To serve, arrange the squash on a serving platter and top each round with a big spoonful of the gremolata.

Green Beans with Sriracha and Orange Marmalade

Green Beans with Sriracha and Orange MarmaladeIf you ask anyone in my family about their Thanksgiving memories, they are sure to bring up the time my mom drained a huge pot of boiling green beans over her bare hand. Even she isn’t certain exactly how it happened. The colander was in the sink, she went to pour the beans in, and… missed. She didn’t have to go to the emergency room, but needless to say she was in a lot of pain that day. I remember her sitting at the table trying to eat with one hand, the other one slathered with aloe and wrapped in a towel.

There is an important lesson we can all learn from her experience, which is: we shouldn’t be boiling our green beans. Instead, we should be roasting them in the oven at high heat, with a drizzle of of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper, until they are just beginning to blister and char. Trust me. Remember a few years ago when we all discovered that roasted Brussels sprouts are delicious? This is the same thing.

This recipe is one I adapted from Elise Bauer. In addition to roasting my beans instead of steaming them, I swapped tamari for the soy sauce (tamari : soy sauce :: lip gloss : lipstick) and changed up the measurements a bit to suit my taste. I’ve made these beans twice in the past week and we have devoured them both times. They are a perfect weeknight dish because you can prep them in under five minutes, and you probably already have all of the ingredients except the beans in your kitchen.

I hate it when people call things fries that are not fries (zucchini fries! eggplant fries!) so I’m just going to say that I love to serve these instead of fries alongside any kind of burger, veggie or otherwise. If you don’t have tamari, use soy sauce instead. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think this sauce would be terrific on any number of roasted vegetables, including asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots, or parsnips. If you are worried these will be too spicy, don’t be. I was and they’re totally not. Not convinced? Dial back the sriracha to 1/2 teaspoon. On the other hand, I wouldn’t use more sriracha because it might overpower the other flavors.

Green Beans with Sriracha and Orange Marmalade
Serves 4 as a side
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon sriracha

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss the green beans, olive oil, and a big pinch of salt and pepper together on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the beans are beginning to char in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the orange marmalade, tamari, and sriracha in a small bowl.

When the beans are done, toss with the marmalade mixture and serve.

Almond Butter Hot Chocolate

Almond Butter Hot ChocolateCan we all just take a minute to appreciate my new mug? I got it at Marshall’s last weekend for $3.99. Alex hates it (at least I didn’t buy a whole set, honey!), but I’m completely obsessed. I might never drink coffee out of anything else. Aside from the obvious (gold, owl) this mug is huge. You can’t tell, but I actually had to double this recipe just to fill it up enough to take a photo.

I was just thinking the other morning about two things I wish I knew before becoming a parent. One was that my car would become a dumpster for half-empty sippy cups, Nutrigrain bar wrappers, Thomas trains, Barney CDs, raisins, goldfish, and crushed graham crackers. It’s so messy it’s embarrassing (what if I get pulled over?), but if you have a toddler then you know it takes a Herculean effort just to get your kid in and out of their car seat every day. The concept of then going back to clean Cheerios out from between the seats is laughable.

The other thing I wish I knew was that we were going to need much, much bigger coffee mugs. I love the gorgeous ones we got for our wedding, but at 6AM a dainty cup is just not going to cut it. Basically, I want a porcelain Big Gulp with a handle. Over the past two years, my mug of choice has slowly grown larger and larger. This owl is the biggest yet, and I think it might finally be The One.

Um, I think I got a little off topic. I meant to tell you about this amazing hot chocolate. At least a couple of nights a week, I have a super healthy dessert of almond milk hot chocolate and a bowl of fresh berries. It’s nice and light, yet still feels decadent and satisfies my nightly chocolate craving. To make it extra luxurious, sometimes I whisk almond butter into it. It makes it really creamy and thick, and the last few sips have these delicious little nubby almond bits in them.

Garnish with a cinnamon stick if you want. I just did it because I read an article on food photography that said it’s important to create lines. Whatevs. Drink up! It’s getting cold outside!

Almond Butter Hot Chocolate
Makes 1 serving

1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the almond milk, cocoa, sugar, and almond butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture is steaming and just barely simmering, 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Pour into a mug.

Beet Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts

Beet Salad with Cranberries and WalnutsBear with me: I grew up an hour from Cape Cod and it’s November. There are about to be more cranberries. Are you a beet person? I never liked them as a kid, but I got super into them in college, where they were always at the salad bar. It was Maine and it was cold, and it felt wrong to eat things like tomatoes and zucchini, even in salad.

Now comes the part where I confess I didn’t cook my own beets for this recipe. Instead, I opted for those super-convenient vacuum-sealed packages you can find in the produce section of most supermarkets (they are usually next to the salad dressings that have to be refrigerated). Roasting beets isn’t hard, but it is messy, and it’s Monday and I have a manicure and I just didn’t feel like it. Please don’t make me feel guilty.

This is a beautiful, festive salad that works great as a side dish or served over greens as a light lunch. The spiced walnuts are addictive (you will be glad you have leftovers!) but if you don’t have time to make them, plain toasted walnuts are just fine.

Beet Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts
Serves 4 as a side
Loosely adapted from Food Network Magazine

1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cooked and peeled beets, cubed
1/2 cup Spiced Walnuts (recipe follows), or plain toasted walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cranberries, water, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until the cranberries pop, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Toss with the beets, walnuts, dried cranberries, and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Spiced Walnuts
Makes 2 cups

2 cups walnut halves
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the walnut halves in a medium bowl. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in the cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne. Pour over the walnuts, add the sugar and salt, and toss until the walnuts are well coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 15 minutes.

Old Bay Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Tartar Sauce

Old Bay Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Tartar SauceWhat do you do when you need a laugh? I have a suggestion: pick up the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living and read Martha’s monthly calendar in the front. I’m not sure if it’s even meant to be funny, but it reads like something straight out of McSweeney’s or Shouts & Murmurs. Here are some examples:

Make up bedrooms and set out slippers for weekend guests
Bring a bowl of fresh eggs to the office
Make Concord grape jelly
Wash all cats

I could go on. I used to have a subscription, and every month I would read the calendar out loud to Alex and laugh so hard it would bring tears to my eyes. Can you imagine being like, What am I doing today? Oh, that’s right! Cleaning my lily pond.

I don’t mean to discredit Martha. On the contrary–I love many of her recipes! Some of them, like these sweet potatoes roasted with Old Bay, are downright genius. I never would have thought to pair Old Bay with anything other than seafood or a Bloody Mary. But the results are spicy and sweet and absolutely perfect.

Since Old Bay makes me think of crab cakes, I decided to pair these potatoes with a quick and easy avocado tartar sauce for dipping. The sauce is delicious, but entirely optional. These potatoes are good enough to serve by themselves.

Old Bay Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Tartar Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Potatoes adapted from Martha Stewart

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (skins on)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Old Bay

For the tartar sauce:
1 large, ripe avocado
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine the sweet potatoes, olive oil, and Old Bay on a baking sheet and toss to coat. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

Meanwhile, mash the avocado in a medium bowl. Add the mayonnaise, relish, and lemon juice and stir until well combined.

Serve the potatoes with the avocado tartar sauce on the side.


Ultimate Fall Salad with Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette

Ultimate Fall Salad with Cranberry-Orange VinaigretteWhat’s your take on salad at Thanksgiving? We usually skip it. Most of my family members would rather save their stomach real estate for extra helpings of stuffing and pie. Plus, we’ve fasted all day in preparation for the feast, and no one wants their first bite to be…lettuce.

But this year I’m hoping to do things differently. I think there is room on the table (and in our stomachs) for a salad, and I promise the one I’m about to offer up won’t disappoint. In fact, it might be your favorite dish of the day. Well, except for the pie. Nobody loves veggies more than me, but even I know their place in that hierarchy.

Still, I cannot sing the praises of this salad enough. I’m completely obsessed. It’s basically everything that’s delicious about fall in one bowl: tender baby kale, honeycrisp apples, tart pomegranate seeds, crunchy walnuts, sweet figs, and OMG the dressing. It’s from a 2010 issue of Cook’s Country, and I honestly don’t know how I have missed it for the past four years. Oh well. The past is the past.

This recipe makes more dressing than you will need for one salad. That’s a good thing! It will keep for about a week in the fridge, and you will want to pour it over everything. This salad is filled with some of my favorite ingredients, but feel free to improvise. Over the weekend I want to try a variation with baby spinach, pecans, and dried cherries.

Ultimate Fall Salad with Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as an appetizer
Dressing adapted from Cook’s Country

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 cup fresh cranberries
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:
1 (5-ounce) package baby kale
1/2 large honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup chopped dried figs
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

For the vinaigrette, combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and let cool, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper and process until well blended. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

To assemble the salad, combine the kale,  apple, pomegranate seeds, dried figs, and walnuts in a large bowl. Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and toss just before serving.