This easy Winter Citrus Salad with Honey Dressing is like sunshine on a plate! Fresh greens, three varieties of citrus, avocado, and crunchy almonds are topped with a bright and sweet honey citrus vinaigrette. It's a delicious mix of flavors and textures!
The Best Simple Winter Salad
When the winter blues have got you down, this Winter Citrus Salad is sure to give you all the sunshine you need. During the winter months, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, kumquats, and lemons are at their best. So if you're in need of a quick and healthy salad, this is the one for you!
Fresh, peppery arugula is a great base for this salad. It adds a vibrant green backdrop against the rainbow of citrus. My favorite combination is grapefruit, navel oranges, and blood oranges because they provide beautiful colors with varying levels of sweetness. The creamy avocado cuts through the tartness while sliced almonds provide much-needed crunch.
And to finish it off: my favorite dressing ever! The Honey Citrus Vinaigrette is sweet and tangy but feels rich and luxurious. It's silky smooth and provides the perfect sheen to this fresh salad. Whether you're in search of a light lunch or a show stopping side salad, this elegant Winter Citrus Salad has got it all!
Why You'll Love It
- Versatile: This salad is great as an appetizer, side salad, or light lunch.
- Healthy: It's filled with fresh greens and fruit for a light and bright meal.
- Easy to customize: Add or substitute any of your favorite ingredients into this salad. Throw in any leftover vegetables in your fridge or punch it up with protein for a full meal.
- No cooking involved: Did I mention how easy this recipe is? It has minimal prep work. Plus, you won't need to fire up the stove, oven, or any appliance for this meal.
- Fast: 20 minutes is all you need to prepare and assemble this quick salad!
- Arugula: I love the light peppery taste of fresh arugula. But feel free to substitute with any hearty greens like radicchio, romaine, kale, or spring greens.
- Grapefruit: Provides a little tartness. Ruby grapefruit are a little sweeter than pink grapefruit.
- Blood oranges: Their crimson red color is stunning! These can be harder to find outside the December-March winter months.
- Orange: Navel oranges are the most common, while Cara Cara oranges are pinker in color.
- Avocado: Provides creaminess and healthy fats.
- Almonds: A great textural contrast. Feel free to substitute with any nut or seed you have on hand.
- Mint: Citrus and mint are a classic pairing.
For The Dressing
- Lemon juice: I always recommend fresh when possible. Adds another citrus flavor but you can substitute with lime or orange juice.
- Dijon mustard: Just a touch to help the dressing emulsify. If you like the flavor, add more.
- Honey: A balancing sweetener to all the citrus.
- Orange zest: It ties the salad and the vinaigrette together. I love the fresh zing it provides!
- Extra virgin olive oil: The base of the dressing.
How To Make It
- Make the dressing. If your honey is very thick, microwave it for 5-10 seconds first so it's easier to work with. Add the lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, orange zest, extra virgin olive oil, and a a pinch of salt to a small jar. Shake vigorously to emulsify. Season to taste.
- Prep the citrus. To make beautiful slices of citrus, start by slicing the top & bottom for flat ends. Then slice down, following the contour of the fruit to remove the white pith. Continue around the perimeter of the entire fruit. Finally, cut across the equator into ¼” slices.
- Assemble the salad. Spread arugula onto a serving platter or bowl. Add the citrus and avocado slices and season with salt. Then sprinkle with almond and fresh mint over the top.
- Dress the salad. When serving, drizzle in the vinaigrette or serve it to the side.
- Warm citrus has more juice. If they're in the fridge, take them out an hour ahead of prep so they can reach room temperature. For the dressing, I like to zap a lemon in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to get as much juice as possible.
- If you don't like the membrane, segment the citrus instead. If you're making horizontal slices, you can still get the membrane between each segment. Another way of prepping the citrus is to segment them instead. Slice off the top and bottom of the citrus and remove the peel. Run your knife between the flesh and the membrane, cutting into the center in a V-shape to get wedges of fruit only.
- Brush the avocado with lemon juice. To prevent browning as much as possible, brush each slice of avocado with lemon juice. Also make sure to season each slice with salt since avocados really need it!
- Don't dress the salad until serving. To prevent the arugula from wilting, add the dressing right before serving or eating. You can also serve the vinaigrette on the side so each guest can choose their desired amount.
Substitutions & Variations
- Replace the arugula with your favorite greens. You could use romaine, radicchio, kale, spring mix, or spinach.
- Use any variety of citrus you'd like: clementines, kumquats, satsumas, preserved lemons - they'd all work!
- Instead of mint, try fresh fennel, tarragon, or parsley.
- Some popular add-ins to a citrus salad include blue cheese, pomegranate seeds, sliced shallots, or roasted beets.
- If you're enjoying this salad as a lunch or dinner, I recommend adding in protein to satiate you for longer. Try grilled or rotisserie chicken, salmon, roasted chickpeas, or crispy tofu.
- Want to make this salad heartier? Add farro, couscous, or quinoa for a healthy grain.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: If you have leftover Winter Citrus Salad, try to store the citrus slices and dressing separately if possible so it doesn't wilt the arugula. Keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezing: Due to all the fresh and juicy components, this salad would not freeze well.
Make It In Advance: You can prep everything ahead of time and store separately in the fridge until you're ready to assemble. I would wait to cut the avocado until serving time so it doesn't brown.
Navel oranges, Cara Cara oranges, mandarines (tangerines, clementines, and satsumas), Tangelo, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and kumquats are all considered winter citrus. They reach their peak season and will be the sweetest and juiciest from late December to late March.
Look for a fruit that has even coloring on its peel with minimal bruising, blemishes, or discoloration. It should feel heavy in weight and smell fragrant. Fruit with a finely textured peel rather than a dimply texture will be juicier and meatier as well.
If you're not planning to use them within the next couple days, store them in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. Then leave on the counter for up to 5 days so they can get to room temperature and therefore, be juicier. You can also freeze whole citrus for up to 3 months. Make sure to wash and scrub the fruit well, especially if you're using the zest for a recipe.
Looking For More?
If you'd like some more healthy, veggie-packed recipes like this refreshing Winter Citrus Salad, try:
- Vietnamese Chayote Squash with Beef (Su Su Xao Thit Bo)
- Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto
- Salmon with Pineapple Salsa and Coconut Rice
- German Potato Salad (Vegan)
- Creamy Lemon Broccoli Pasta with Shrimp
Winter Citrus Salad
- For the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, dijon, honey, and orange zest. Season with a pinch of salt. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified. Alternatively, add all the dressing ingredients to a small jar and shake vigorously until emulsified.
- Spread arugula onto a serving dish. Layer with grapefruit, blood orange, orange, and avocado slices. Lightly season with salt.
- Sprinkle with almonds and fresh mint over the top.
- When ready to serve, dress the salad or serve the vinaigrette on the side.
- Serving size ranges from 1-6, depending on whether it's a main or side dish.
- For a party or event, I recommend doubling or tripling the dressing.
- Use any variety of citrus you'd like - clementines, kumquats, satsumas, etc. would all work.
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