Order the winter fruit salad? Yeah, not happening. It’s true. Salads with fruit don’t usually excite me so when I tell you I’ve eaten this four times in the last week — not sick of it yet — there’s a reason for that.
But before we talk salad, can somebody explain the weather situation we are having here in Phoenix? We’ve gotten at least 4 inches of rain and now it’s snowing! Am I even in the desert anymore?
I know I’ve raved about this particular citrus salad with cara cara oranges but I’m really digging this one too, more so as an actual meal.
Why I’m Freaking Out Over A Salad with Fruit
This is the kind of salad that becomes a meal when you serve it as a giant portion stuffed to the brim with winter goodies. It’s incredibly fresh and yet, it’s super satisfying because of all the fun textures: chewy, crunchy, squishy, dry, and wet.
Some things can’t easily be explained. You just have to experience this one and see for yourself.
Easy Homemade Croutons
First of all, we’ve got homemade croutons galore seasoned to perfection with, get this, butter and olive oil. They also get crisped up with some fresh garlic and Italian seasoning. Croutons add an essential crunch but more importantly, they balance the sweet stuff. It’s a real flavor bomb experience sifting through this winter bounty in a bowl.
Since we are still in full on winter mode, even here in the so-called desert, we continue to take full advantage of the citrus situation. I’m talking about the eye candy of the produce section, the beloved sumo mandarins and tangerine hybrids.
You can choose any winter fruit you want for this salad, and it’s going to be awesome, but if you want a totally legitimate MEAL, then I’d suggest going for this trio: that brown pear aka the bosc, sumo mandarin for that zappy pow, and a red apple like a honey crisp. Oh, and don’t forget to add a fresh cucumber, too.
Now that we’ve covered the fruit section of this winter fruit salad, we’re also going to add some crisp pieces of bacon for good measure. Then, we just top it all off with a classic shallot vinaigrette. Here’s a link to the essential blended shallot vinaigrette recipe, which is key to this salad being amazingly awesome so no cheating and buying store bought.
Winter Fruit Salad
Rustic Torn Croutons
- 3 T olive oil, extra virgin
- 3 T unsalted butter, melted
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp kosher salt, or 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning, a blend of oregano, thyme, basil, and rosemary
- 1/2 loaf French bread, a few days old
For the Salad
- 10 oz baby kale, about 6 handfuls
- 2 persian cucumbers, or 1 English cucumber
- 2 sumo mandarin oranges, or tangerines
- 4 oz bacon, crisped and torn into small pieces
- 1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and cubed
- 1 bosc pear
- 1 recipe Shallot Vinaigrette
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
To make the croutons:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Combine the olive oil, butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in a large bowl. Tear the bread into bite sized chunks and place them in the bowl, swirling around to coat. Use your hands to press the bread into the seasoning to evenly coat. Spread on a sheet pan and bake until lightly golden and crispy, 20 minutes. Allow to cool while making the salad.
For the salad:
- Dump up to 6 large handfuls of kale into a very large bowl — note that this will serve about 4-6 people. Pile on the cucumbers, mandarin, bacon, apple, pear, and a handful of the croutons (reserve the rest in a bag for another salad).
- Toss the salad with the shallot vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serve immediately.