Napa Orange Salad with Walnuts

by Min Merrell
napa slaw

Napa Orange Salad with Walnuts will enhance your appreciation for this winter green.

If you entertain regularly it’s immeasurably important to use party/menu journal to track of all the interesting foods and folks you serve. Keep a notebook handy somewhere you will actually sit down and write in it. Or create a document called Party Menus 2015 and keep it on your laptop. Beyond the menus, recipes, and guest lists jot down your centerpieces and any other tidbits of information that will be nice to refer back to (and that your memory might not recall). It helps to know what (and who) works and what doesn’t, a surprise hit of a recipe or a clunker that you hoped would go over big, or an easy centerpiece that you threw together that wowed everyone.  

This Napa Orange Salad with Walnuts was a surprise hit for us this year. Napa cabbage is just a great ingredient for winter. It’s crunchy, but not too crunchy so you can call this a salad and not a slaw. The orange and walnut mix is very Mediterranean but tastes fantastic mixed with a little sweet-tart cranberry. We’ve been seeing more and more Napa salads on seasonal winter restaurant menus taking advantage of these food-friendly attributes.

Keep an ideas section in your notebook as well. I’m already thinking about next year. Pinterest is invaluable for recipe and tablescape research. And it’s so convenient to have that filing system in place. If you’re not on Pinterest I urge everyone to get registered. It’s too interesting and valuable to miss. 

Here’s a recap of 2014 Thanksgiving at our house:

We had a bit of a New Mexico theme this year with some chile and pinto beans on the menu. 

Napa Orange Salad with Walnuts

Shelf turkey

Turkey in green chile gravy–We chopped up some of the turkey and served a green chile turkey stew by adding it to a batch of gravy with a generous amount of our frozen green chile. I’d say 3 cups gravy to 1 cup green chile.

Red chile gravy–Add 1  cup red chile paste to 3 cups regular gravy. 

Regular gravy

Pinto beans

Roasted carrots  (something simple for Evie our 3-year old cousin)

Cornbread dressing

Napa orange salad with walnuts

Mashed potatoes (fantastic made ahead and kept warm in the crock-pot, and you can’t beat them smothered with red chile gravy.)

Sandra’s fresh cranberry, pecan, celery gelatin salad (the Franklin Merrell’s brought this, need the recipe!)

Creamed hominy and green peas— Just make a good white sauce and add canned hominy and frozen green peas. Add melted sharp cheddar cheese if you like. 

Sister Schubert rolls 

Pecan pie

Sweet potato pie

Homemade baklava

Whipped Cream

Two folding white 6-foot tables in the living room arranged in a big square. The tablecloth was my customary 6′ x 9′ cotton paint department drop cloths. No big centerpiece (just scattered votives) so there was room for all the food in the middle of the wide table to encourage seconds and thirds. 

White china, mixed silver, heavy goblet water glasses, and Target Reidels. 

Who came: The Brentwood Merrells, The Franklin Merrells, and the Forest Hills Merrell/Quinns. Very relaxing Thanksgiving. Low key with lots of family togetherness. 


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