A festive arugula salad with sweet potato, apple, and cranberries – brought together by creamy balsamic dressing. Perfect for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.
Here’s a truth not commonly acknowledged: salad is the unsung hero of the Thanksgiving table. In a sea of beige, creamy, savory dishes, salad brings the much-needed contrast, color, and crunch to balance out the weighty meal.
I call this my “best” Thanksgiving salad because it’s made of universally-loved seasonal ingredients and because it complements the classic flavors of the holiday really well. If you don’t already serve salad on Thanksgiving, I hope this one inspires you to start a new tradition.
What’s In This Salad
This vegan arugula salad features roasted sweet potatoes, slices of tart green apple, crunchy red onion, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and creamy balsamic dressing. It’s super easy to put together and can be mostly made ahead (details below).
- Arugula: Its pepperiness goes perfectly with sweet potatoes and apples. You can use baby spinach as a substitute.
- Sweet Potatoes: You can roast butternut squash instead.
- Tart Apple: Can be subbed with halved green grapes.
- Dried Cranberries: Can be subbed with black raisins or dried currants.
- Almonds: Can be subbed with walnuts or pine nuts.
The Best Thanksgiving Salad, Step-by-Step
Roast the Sweet Potatoes: Start by cutting the potato into small cubes, and tossing them with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a preheated 425ºF oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Soak the Onion: Meanwhile, thinly slice the red onion and soak it in a bowl of cold water. This will tone down its pungency.
Toast the Almonds: Place the almonds in a small dry skillet and toast over low heat until golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Watch them carefully, since they can quickly go from golden to burnt.
Make the Dressing: In a jar, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of mayo (the mayo will make the dressing creamy). Tightly close the jar and shake it up until everything comes together. Alternatively, whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.
Assemble the Salad: Be sure to cool the potatoes to room temp before assembling – otherwise, they will wilt the arugula. When ready to serve, combine the arugula, sliced apples, roasted sweet potatoes, drained onions, cranberries, toasted almonds, and the dressing. Toss to coat and transfer to a serving platter.
To prep the salad in advance, you can roast and cool the sweet potatoes, and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also make the dressing and keep it in the fridge for up to 1 week. Lastly, you can toast the almonds and keep them in an airtight container in the pantry. If bringing this salad to a potluck, you may combine all the salad ingredients and keep them at room temp for up to 1 hour. Do not dress the salad until you’re ready to serve it – otherwise, the arugula will wilt.
More vegan Thanksgiving sides…
Let me know if you try this recipe! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and don’t forget to tag @thenewbaguette on Instagram with your creation.Print
A festive arugula salad with roasted sweet potatoes, apple, cranberries, and almonds.
For the Salad
- 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds* (see note below)
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- One 5-ounce clamshell arugula*
- 1 tart green apple (like Granny Smith), cored and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
For the Dressing
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon or brown mustard
- 1 tablespoon mayo
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with a tablespoon of oil, and sprinkle with pinches of salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then arrange in a single layer. Roast until golden brown, about 25 minutes, tossing once about halfway through. (Cool to room temperature before adding to the salad.)
- Meanwhile, place 1/4 cup almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toast until golden and fragrant, tossing frequently, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
- Place the sliced onion in a small bowl of cold water and soak while you prep the remaining ingredients (at least 10 minutes).
- To make the dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jar, close tightly with a lid, and shake vigorously to combine. Alternatively, whisk everything together in a bowl.
- When ready to serve the salad, in a large bowl, combine the arugula, the sliced apple, drained onions, cooled sweet potatoes, toasted almonds, and 1/4 cup cranberries. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.
- You can sub the almonds with pine nuts or chopped walnuts.
- You can sub the arugula with baby spinach.
- Serving Size: 1/6 of the recipe
- Calories: 160
- Fat: 10.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 17.6 g
- Fiber: 2.6 g
- Protein: 2 g
Keywords: thanksgiving, salad, arugula, sweet potato