Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Mandarin Orange Salad With Caramelized Almonds

I have been making this salad for years, as it has been handed down in my family. But I figured the super bowl would be a good time to write about it because according to family legend, my aunt discovered this salad at a 1971 Super Bowl party, long before I was born. The recipe has changed a bit over the years, and I have made my own tweaks to it. But its long been a favorite of everyone I have ever made it for. The combination of the tangy mandarin oranges and the sweet caramelized almonds is dynamite. Any time I see a can of mandarin oranges, it reminds me that it is time to make this salad for a nice, healthy dinner, especially for a football game. They go nicely with these Jets cupcakes I made last week (you can see where my sports loyalties lie as a New Yorker, even though they lost this past weekend).

I was so excited that ShopRite threw in a can of their mandarin oranges with their last package that they sent me, and I put together this classic salad that I love making with them. Of all the cans of mandarin oranges I have used over the years, these really stood out as having great texture, color and flavor. They were delicious. You really do not need to use a sweet dressing with this salad, as the almonds give you all the sweetness that you need once they are caramelized. My mom passed this recipe along to me and I am so glad she did as it is a winner!

Sasha's Mandarin Orange Salad with Caramelized Almonds
  • 3-4 hearts of romaine
  • 1 can of ShopRite's mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 of a cup of almond slivers
  • 1/4 of a cup plus 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 stalk diced celery (optional)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (for the dressing)
  • 2 T red wine vinegar (for the dressing)
  • 2 T diced parsley (for the dressing)

To caramelize the almonds, combine with the sugar in a small frying pan over medium low hear. You want to make sure the sugar melts slowly so you do not burn the almonds. Once the sugar begins to melt after a few minutes, keep stirring until the sugar and almonds are fully caramelized. Then pour onto a piece of foil a and allow to cool completely. This will make an almond brittle of sorts, which you will need to break apart. I used to do this by hand, and when I got tired of that, I pulverized a nut chopper blade doing this, but now I rely on the Slap-Chop and it works. Mix the nuts with the shredded hearts of romaine, celery and the can of mandarin oranges (draining the liquid first). Then combine the parsley, oil and vinegar for the dressing and add to the salad. Enjoy!


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