This Winter Citrus Salad combines sweet and tangy citrus fruits, creamy avocado, rich goat cheese, crunchy almonds, and peppery arugula, all brought together with a zesty and sweet honey citrus vinaigrette.
Winter time is citrus season and there is no better way to brighten a snowy day than with this cheerful winter citrus salad with honey vinaigrette.
Sweet and tangy citrus and homemade honey vinaigrette pair perfectly with creamy goat cheese and avocado. Together, these rich flavors adorn a bed of peppery and zesty red onion and arugula. Top it all with toasted almonds for a salad that is as healthy as it is delicious.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy Prep. Slice the citrus and avocado, toast the almonds, and make the dressing and that’s just about all you need to create a meal with deliciously complex flavors.
- Fresh. There is nothing more uplifting in the dark winter months than a meal filled with fresh ingredients to give our bodies the nutrients they crave.
- Seasonal Eating. Make this awesome salad in winter when citrus is in season and at peak ripeness. Late winter is also a great time to find fresh arugula.
- Easy to Customize. Use whatever citrus fruits are available in your region and don’t be afraid to try new pairings as the season goes on.
How to Make It
This salad recipe incorporates several fresh ingredients, but bringing them together takes hardly any time at all.
You’ll find a full, printable recipe card at the bottom of this post, but for now, let’s take a quick look at what goes into creating this salad.
- Citrus. I find that the key to bringing out the bright flavors of this recipe is to use a variety of different citrus fruits. Mixing tangy blood oranges, sweet Cara Caras, and bitter grapefruit is a winning combination.
- Arugula. There are plenty of nutritious greens you could use as the base of this salad. But it’s hard to replicate the perfect zestiness of arugula.
- Goat Cheese. The rich flavor and smooth texture of goat cheese bring everything together. If you can’t find goat cheese you can always substitute feta cheese.
- Thyme. This herb plays a small role in the dressing and as a garnish, but the flavor payoff is huge. There’s just something about thyme’s earthiness mixed with sweet citrus that goes wonderfully together.
- Red Onion. It doesn’t take much onion to elevate this dish. Be sure to use fresh red onion as it has the spiciest flavor.
Step 1: Peel and slice your citrus fruits. Peel citrus with a sharp knife to fully remove the white pith.
Step 2: Toast the almond slivers. Set aside to cool.
Step 3: Assemble the salad. Place arugula on the bottom and top with citrus, onions, and avocado.
Step 4: Sprinkle with goat cheese and almonds.
Step 5: Whisk together dressing ingredients. Chop thyme leaves and stir in.
Step 6: Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Or serve dressing on the side.
Step 7: Garnish with fresh thyme. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe Tips, Substitutions, and Variations
- Plate with a knife. This salad looks so beautiful when it’s done. But to get the most out of the flavor combinations, be sure to serve it with a knife so you can cut up those beautiful ingredients before eating.
- Out of honey? Both maple syrup and agave work well for the dressing. You can use the same amount of agave, but you’ll have to add ¼ tablespoon if using maple syrup to get the same sweetness.
- Add some protein. Grilled chicken, seitan, and chickpeas all pair well with this salad.
- Mix up the toppings. To keep the flavor fresh, try adding or substituting garnishes. I’ve found pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, fresh mint leaves, tarragon, and other fresh herbs all work well with these flavors.
- Use the citrus as it comes into season. Different citrus fruits come into season at different times in the winter. Use whatever you can find at the time, including mandarins, navel oranges, and tangerines.
Make Ahead and Storage Recommendations
To avoid any of the fresh ingredients drying out, I recommend making this salad shortly before you plan to eat it. However, you can make the dressing ahead of time if needed.
Mix all the ingredients in a jar and keep it in the fridge. Shake vigorously to warm up the honey and remix the ingredients before using.
Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. To keep things from getting soggy, store the salad separately from the dressing. I also recommend cutting fresh avocados before eating, as they will go brown in the fridge.
Try These Other Wonderful Citrus Recipes
Got more citrus than you slice into this salad? Here are a few more of my favorite citrus-centric recipes to use them up in.
- Winter Citrus Millet Taboulleh – A cold salad featuring fresh vegetables, millet, and cara cara oranges.
- Immune Boosting Green Smoothie – Perfect for the winter, this smoothie packs tons of vitamin C and nutrients thanks to oranges, spinach, and ginger.
- Citrus Shortbread Sandwiches Filled with Mixed Citrus Curd – Inspired by French confections, this dessert features a mix of citrus juices, including blood oranges, grapefruits, and lemons.
- Savory Pink Grapefruit Salad – Simple but oh so good.
- Orange Cardamom Curd – The perfect way to preserve your citrus and a great topping for yogurt, toast, and more.
Winter Citrus Salad
- Large knife
- cutting board
- mixing bowl
- 2 blood oranges peeled and sliced into rounds
- 2 oranges Cara Cara peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 grapefruit Ruby Red peeled and sliced into rounds
- 4 cups arugula washed and dried
- 1/2 cup goat cheese crumbled
- 1/4 cup almonds slivered, toasted
- 1 avocado ripe, sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
- thyme fresh leaves for garnish
Honey Citrus Vinaigrette Ingredients
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice fresh squeezed from Cara Cara or blood oranges
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice fresh squeezed
- 1 tablespoon honey adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic minced (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon thyme fresh leaves, finely chopped
- Peel and slice the blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, and Ruby Red grapefruit into rounds. Remove any seeds if present.
- In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the slivered almonds until they are golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- On a large platter or in a salad bowl, lay down a bed of arugula. Arrange the citrus slices over the arugula in an attractive pattern. Add the sliced avocado and sprinkle the thinly sliced red onion over the top.
- Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese and toasted slivered almonds over the salad.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic (if using). Stir in the chopped thyme leaves. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continually whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Drizzle the honey citrus vinaigrette over the salad just before serving. Alternatively, you can serve the dressing on the side and allow guests to add it to their preference.
- Sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves over the salad for an aromatic touch.