Festive Spinach Salad with Sesame-Honey Vinaigrette

It’s bright, it’s colorful, it looks fancier than it is, and it’s packed with flavor. What more can you ask of a salad? This one is perfect for holidays, entertaining, or anytime you want something that feels elevated but comes together in minutes. 

What I love about this salad is that it has a part-sweet, part-savory sesame-honey dressing, and bold flavors like orange, cherry and red onion. It feels like a celebration. 


Total Time: 

20 Minutes


For the salad:

  • 10 oz. box or bag of baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 3 navel oranges
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • ⅔ cup red onion
  • ½ cup dried sweetened cherries

For the dressing:

  • ½ cup best-quality olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (and more to finish)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Peel the oranges whole (you can just cut the peel off with a knife), then cut the orange in half lengthwise, and slice sections off from each half.
  • Thinly slice the red onion in half-moon slivers.
  • In a large salad bowl, mix the spinach, almonds, orange slices, onion, and dried cherries.
  • To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients (except the oil) in a bowl. Then slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking vigorously to emulsify.
  • Starting with 1/3 cup of the dressing, toss the salad and finish with more kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Pillar Tips:

  • Quick-pickle your onion: If you don’t want the sharp taste of raw onion, try this nifty trick – thinly slice one half of a red onion into half-moon slivers (about 3 cups of loosely measured onion). Put the onion in a 25 oz. glass jar. Add 2 Tablespoons sugar, 2 Tablespoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, and then fill the jar to the top with boiling water. Screw the lid on tightly and give it several good shakes. In about 15 minutes you’ll have pickled onion. This keeps for many weeks in your fridge.
  • This dressing will make more than you need. Start with 1/3 cup and toss thoroughly. Taste a few leaves and add more if you like. The extra will store nicely in a sealed glass container for up to a week.
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