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This simple Christmas salad is a festive addition to any holiday dinner! Paired with a tangy red wine vinaigrette dressing, this easy make-ahead Mediterranean-inspired salad is bright, vibrant, and bursting with flavor—and yes, it really looks like a Christmas wreath!
Table of Contents
- Recipe at a glance
- Ingredients You’ll Need to Make a Christmas Salad
- Popular Substitutions & Additions
- How to Make a Christmas Salad Wreath
- Tips for Making the Best Elegant Christmas Salad
- What to Serve With This Christmas Salad
- How to Store
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Holiday Themed Recipes:
- Christmas Wreath Salad Recipe
While a kale salad doesn’t usually end up on the festive list, this Christmas salad proves that healthy dishes can be every bit as festive as cookies and treats! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Gingerbread Cookie and Hot Cocoa Bomb, but I still enjoy something fresh with treats!
This wreath Christmas salad isn’t just about appearances, though. It’s also a legitimately delicious salad! Hearty kale forms the “greens” in our wreath, with cherry tomatoes and green olives acting as ornaments, red onion, and feta as snow!
The red wine vinaigrette is punched up by the addition of Dijon mustard and garlic. The light dressing is exactly what you want in a salad like this—after all, you need to save room for those Christmas cookies!
Recipe at a glance
Cuisine Inspiration: Mediterranean
Primary Cooking Method: No-Cook
Dietary Info: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb
Key Flavor: Savory, Briny, and Tangy
Skill Level: Easy
- Festive and Fun: It can be hard to find savory dishes that add a festive factor for the holidays, but this Christmas wreath salad fits the bill.
- Easy to Make: You have enough on your plate when you’re planning for the holidays, so why add complicated recipes too?! This Christmas salad idea is practically effortless—just arrange the greens and add-ins in a salad bowl with a bowl of dressing nested in the middle.
- Big, Bold Flavors: This is not a boring salad! The homemade dressing is bright and tangy, the kale and feta add a briny flavor, and the tomatoes add a nice sweetness that balances the earthy kale.
- Make-Ahead Options: Kale is a hearty green that can last a while in the fridge, which means you can easily make this Christmas wreath salad ahead of time and have it ready to go for a holiday get-together.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make a Christmas Salad
- Extra-virgin olive oil: This is a recipe where using a fancy EVOO will pay off. A fruity, flavorful oil will make the dressing really shine.
- Red wine vinegar: You can use another variety of vinegar if you’d like, but I like the more assertive, savory flavor of red wine vinegar, which stands up well to the big flavors in this elegant Christmas salad recipe.
- Dijon mustard: A great way to add another dimension to a salad dressing.
- Garlic: Grating the garlic clove allows it to be more evenly distributed in the dressing. (In other words, no one will bite into a big piece of garlic!)
- Salt and black pepper: I recommend freshly ground black pepper for the best flavor.
- Kale: Wash it well, then remove the tough stems.
- Cherry tomatoes: Grape tomatoes are also fine.
- Green olives: Make sure you buy pitted olives!
- Red onion: While onion can be quite pungent, slicing it thin will help.
- Crumbled feta cheese: I add just a bit to the salad, but you can set aside some extra in a bowl so guests can add more to their plates if they’d like.
Popular Substitutions & Additions
- Try another green. Spinach, arugula, or another deep green lettuce can be used in place of the kale. (While you could use a lighter green, Christmas wreaths are usually made with evergreen branches or holly, which are darker!)
- Switch up the add-ins. Fresh or roasted red bell pepper, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes—there are so many options for making this Christmas wreath salad your own!
- Use a store-bought dressing. If you’re really in a time crunch, you can swap in your favorite bottled salad dressing for the red wine vinaigrette. I recommend something light and savory over a dressing that’s creamy and/or sweet.
- Go from savory to sweet. Maybe you do want a salad that leans more sweet? Add dried cranberries, candied pecans, and pepitas, along with the feta and red onions. You can use the red wine vinaigrette or swap in a dressing with a touch of honey or maple syrup for sweetness.
How to Make a Christmas Salad Wreath
This is the easiest kind of Christmas dinner recipe. You don’t even have to turn on your oven!
Prepare the kale
- Add all of the dressing ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk everything together until the dressing is emulsified (i.e., the oil is fully combined with the vinegar and mustard).
- Reserve most of the dressing in a small bowl. Add the kale to the remaining dressing in the mixing bowl and massage.
- Work the kale with your hands, squeezing and rubbing until it softens and the flavor mellows. (Learn more here: Massaged Kale Salad.)
Assemble the holiday wreath salad
- Set the bowl of dressing in the center of a larger salad bowl. Arrange the kale leaves around the dressing.
- Add the tomatoes and olives on top of the kale.
- Scatter the sliced red onions onto the salad.
- Finish by sprinkling the crumbled feta over the Christmas wreath salad.
Tips for Making the Best Elegant Christmas Salad
- Skip massaging the leaves if you don’t use kale. If you want to use other greens like spinach or romaine lettuce, I recommend not dressing or massaging the salad, but instead serving all of the dressing in a bowl in the middle of the wreath.
- Massage the kale well. This helps infuse the dressing flavor into the kale, mellowing its earthy flavor, and it also helps to break down the tough leaves, making them more tender to eat.
- Soak the onions in cold water. I don’t recommend skipping the onions because they add a nice contrast to the other salad ingredients. That said, if you want to cut some of their bite, you can soak them in ice water while you prepare the other ingredients, which makes them less pungent.
- Get creative with the assembly. If you don’t have larger and smaller bowls that will work for assembling this Christmas wreath salad, you can use a chip-and-dip tray.
What to Serve With This Christmas Salad
- Whole Roasted Garlic and Herb Chicken
- Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
- Pillowy French Bread Rolls
- Oven Roasted Carrots
How to Store
This Christmas wreath salad can be made the day before and kept covered in the fridge. If you have leftovers of this salad, they’ll last up to 3 days in an airtight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
Apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar can be good substitutes. Each will add a slightly different flavor profile to the salad.
You can dilute the dressing with a bit more olive oil. Alternatively, add a small amount of honey or maple syrup to balance the acidity and mustard flavor.
I like to use Lacinato kale, also known as Tuscan or Dinosaur kale, for salads. It’s rich in flavor but it has thinner leaves compared to other types of kale, so you don’t need to cook it to use it. Curly kale will also work well.
Add a festive touch to your holiday dinner table with this elegant Christmas wreath salad! It’s the perfect combination of light and flavorful, plus it all comes together with just a few minutes of work. That’s always a plus when you’re busy with holiday prep!
More Holiday Themed Recipes:
- Christmas Tree Vegetable Platter
- Reindeer Brownies
- Crudite Wreath
- Christmas Cookies
- Baked Brie with Cranberry
- Christmas Wreath Charcuterie Board
- Cranberry Bliss Bars
- Homemade Apple Cider
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Christmas Wreath Salad
- In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour most of the dressing into a small bowl placed on a large plate, or the dip section of a chip and dip bowl.
- Add the kale to the bowl with the leftover dressing and use your hands to massage the kale with the dressing to soften it.
- Place the kale around the dressing to resemble a wreath. Add the tomatoes, green olives, sliced red onions and feta cheese all around.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.