Mandarin Orange Salad

Sunshine in a Bowl: Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe

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Updated on January 12, 2024

Reviewed by Miral Nassar

Ditch the boring; embrace the zesty! Step aside, Caesar, there’s a new salad in town, bursting with sunshine and sassing the Mandarin Orange Salad!

Imagine this: juicy mandarin segments dance with plump grapes, their sweetness a playful counterpoint to the crunch of toasted nuts and the salty tang of feta cheese. Every bite is a vibrant explosion of flavour, a citrusy tango on your taste buds that’ll leave you begging for more.

This isn’t your grandma’s salad, folks. This is a fiesta in a bowl, a kaleidoscope of colours and textures that’s as easy to whip up as it is to devour. Forget bored over wilted greens and rubbery chicken—this recipe is all about fresh, vibrant ingredients and a simple yet oh-so-delicious dressing.

Ready to unleash your inner salad artist? Scroll down, and let’s get this citrus party started!

What Are the Benefits of Mandarin Oranges?

Mandarin oranges, those tiny, vibrant citrus delights, aren’t just a burst of juicy sweetness—they’re packed with amazing health benefits! Here’s a closer look at what makes these little sunshine segments so good for you:

Vitamin C Powerhouse

One mandarin orange packs over 25% of your daily recommended Vitamin C intake. This essential vitamin strengthens your immune system, fights off infections, and promotes healthy skin.

Antioxidant Superstar

Mandarins are bursting with antioxidants like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These powerful compounds fight free radicals, protect your cells from damage, and may even lower your risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Fibre Friend

These tiny fruits are surprisingly high in fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre helps manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels, while insoluble fibre keeps your digestive system working smoothly.

Eye Health Hero

The carotenoids in mandarins, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, are essential for protecting your eyes from harmful blue light and age-related macular degeneration.

Bone Builder

Mandarins are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, all essential minerals for building and maintaining strong bones.

Mood Booster

Vitamin C and folate in mandarins play a role in producing dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that regulate mood and well-being. So, snacking on mandarins might just give your mood a sunny boost!

Low in Calories and Fat

With only about 50 calories and 0 grams of fat per mandarin, these are a guilt-free way to satisfy your sweet tooth and add nutrients to your diet.

Easy to Peel and Portable

Their thin, easy-to-peel skin and small size make mandarins the perfect on-the-go snack. Toss them in your lunchbox, backpack, or purse for a healthy and refreshing energy boost anytime.

Versatile Ingredient

Mandarins aren’t just for snacking! They add a burst of sweetness and citrusy flavour to salads, stir-fries, marinades, desserts, and even cocktails.

So, go ahead and peel yourself a juicy mandarin orange – you’re doing your body a favour!

Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe 

The Mandarin orange salad combines sweet, juicy citrus, crunchy textures, and savoury accents. It’s perfect as a light lunch, a refreshing side dish, or even a vibrant starter. 

Here’s a recipe to guide you through creating this flavorful masterpiece:

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 5 Mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion (optional)
  • 2 cups mixed greens or baby spinach (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Oranges: Peel the mandarin oranges and carefully separate the segments, discarding any seeds.
  2. Assemble the Salad: In a large bowl, combine the segmented oranges, halved grapes, chopped nuts, and crumbled feta cheese. If using, add the thinly sliced red onion and mixed greens.
  3. Whisk the Dressing: In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper until well combined.
  4. Dress and Serve: Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat all the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Tips

  • Sweetness: For a sweeter salad, use seedless mandarin oranges or add a drizzle of honey or agave nectar to the dressing.
  • Creamy Touch: Substitute crumbled goat cheese for feta for a creamier texture.
  • Spicy Kick: Add a finely chopped jalapeno pepper or a pinch of red pepper flakes to the dressing for a spicy kick.

Variations

Tropical Twist

  • Replace the red grapes with mango or pineapple chunks.
  • Add a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes for extra texture and sweetness.
  • Use a coconut milk and lime juice dressing instead of olive oil and lemon juice.

Spicy Fiesta

  • Add a chopped jalapeño pepper for a kick of heat.
  • Use a pinch of cayenne pepper in the dressing.
  • Top with crumbled cotija cheese and a drizzle of cilantro lime crema.

Mediterranean Medley

  • Replace the feta cheese with kalamata olives or crumbled halloumi cheese.
  • Add chopped cucumber, red onion, and cherry tomatoes.
  • Drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Hearty Harvest

  • Add cooked quinoa or brown rice for a more filling salad.
  • Roast the walnuts until golden brown for added flavour.
  • Top with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds for a burst of tartness and colour.

Herbivore Delight

  • Substitute feta cheese with cubed tofu or tempeh for a vegan option. 
  • Add chopped avocado slices for creaminess and healthy fats. 
  • Drizzle with a tahini dressing made with lemon juice, tahini paste, water, and garlic.

Winter Wonderland

  • Use blood oranges instead of regular mandarin oranges for a stunning visual effect. 
  • Add a handful of pomegranate seeds for bursts of juicy sweetness and tartness. 
  • Drizzle with a honey-mustard dressing for a warm and flavorful touch.

Bonus Variations

  • Grill the mandarin oranges for a smoky flavour.
  • Add a scoop of vanilla yoghurt or ricotta cheese for a creamy element.
  • Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs like mint, basil, or cilantro.

Presentation

Serve the Mandarin orange salad in a large bowl or on individual plates. Garnish with a few fresh mint leaves or a drizzle of balsamic glaze for an extra touch of elegance.

Finally, Zesty & Refreshing

This Mandarin Orange Salad is more than a meal; it’s a celebration of fresh, vivid ingredients; it’s not your typical green salad; instead, it’s a fresh fruit voyage with zesty taste sensations and a new texture. It’s a dish you must try, and we are confident that it will become your go-to once you do. 

FAQs

u003cstrongu003eWhat type of mandarins should I use?u003c/strongu003e

Any variety of mandarin oranges will work well in this recipe! Clementines, murcotts, and tangerines are all excellent choices. Look for firm fruits with bright, vibrant skin.

u003cstrongu003eCan I substitute the grapes?u003c/strongu003e

Absolutely! While grapes add a lovely sweetness and juicy pop, feel free to experiment with other fruits. Berries like blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries would be delicious additions. You could even try mango or pineapple chunks for a tropical twist.

u003cstrongu003eWhat can I use instead of feta cheese?u003c/strongu003e

If you’re not a fan of feta, don’t fret! There are plenty of other options. Goat cheese is a classic substitute, offering a similar tangy flavour with a creamier texture. You could also try blue cheese for a more intense bite or mozzarella cheese for a milder option. Crumbled tofu or tempeh would add a nice protein boost for a vegan twist.

u003cstrongu003eHow can I make the dressing more flavorful?u003c/strongu003e

The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity, but feel free to get creative with the dressing! Add a teaspoon of honey or agave nectar for extra sweetness or a pinch of red pepper flakes for a spicy kick. You could also try infusing the olive oil with fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary for a unique flavour twist.

u003cstrongu003eWhat can I serve this salad with?u003c/strongu003e

This salad is versatile enough to be enjoyed on its own as a light lunch or side dish. But if you’re looking to amp it up a notch, pair it with grilled chicken or fish, roasted vegetables, or even a dollop of hummus.

u003cstrongu003eCan I make this salad ahead of time?u003c/strongu003e

You can definitely prep the ingredients and assemble the salad ahead of time; just hold off on adding the dressing until you’re ready to serve. The citrus juices can wilt the greens if they sit together too long.

u003cstrongu003eHow can I store leftovers?u003c/strongu003e

Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. The dressing may separate a bit, so just give it a good shake before serving again.

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