Soaking dried cranberries in Port wine brings a unique layer of flavor to this New Orleans themed salad. Louisiana Sunburst salad is a recipe made famous by the Palace Cafe in New Orleans.
About this Recipe and Why It Works
A few years ago, we hosted a New Orleans themed Super Bowl Party with a buffet dedicated to Creole and Cajun dishes. Our friend Teri brought this New Orleans salad, a very, tasty recipe from the Palace Cafe in New Orleans.
A little bit of History about this Louisiana Sunburst Salad: The Palace Cafe is located at the foot of the French Quarter, in the Werlein’s Music Building and has earned national and local critical acclaim since it opened in 1991. Owners include members of the legendary Brennan family.
So as you can see, this salad comes with quite the pedigree which explains it’s elegant and intoxicating flavors.
The salad starts with an impressive idea to soak dried cranberries in port wine. And as we all know, port and blue cheese are a classic pairing, so the salad is sprinkled with crumbled Stilton Cheese to add to its charm.
Toasted sliced almonds bring a nice crunch, and the sweet tangy raspberry vinaigrette which includes a healthy dose of hot sauce, makes this an exciting flavor profile.
A perfect side dish for any Cajun or Creole main dish, or in my humble opinion, this works well alongside a big beautiful grilled steak or BBQ Chicken. And of course a perfect salad for a Good Shrimp Gumbo.
Let’s get started.
Ingredients To Make This Salad
- Lettuce Mix: Choose a mix of greens with diverse colors. Mesclun mixed with baby lettuces like mache, frisee, radicchio and spinach. Or a beautiful package Spring mix works well here.
- Port Wine: We used a Tawny Port. You can also use a Ruby Port.
- Tabasco Sauce
- Dried Cranberries: Ocean Spray Craisins are readily available for purchase.
- Sliced Almonds
- Raspberry Vinegar
- Olive Oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil always works best, as the flavor isn’t too strong or too mild.
- Stilton Cheese: Stilton is an English semi-soft, crumbly, creamy cheese. With a bold rich flavor it will bring an intense and complex flavor to this salad.
- Wine: If you don’t have Port, you can substitute Sherry, which is a cousin of port, Marsala, an Italian fortified wine or Madeira is a substitute. Even Vermouth would work. Unsweetened fruit juice would be an option here. But please, give that rich elegant Port a chance, even if it means a special trip to the liquor store.
- Hot Sauce: Tabasco is probably the most well-known Louisiana Hot Sauce, but you can also substitute Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce. Or your favorite Cajun or Creole Hot Sauce.
- Nuts: If you don’t have almonds, you can substitute pecans. Just follow the directions to toast them as you would the almonds.
- Sweetener: This recipe calls for sugar, but you can substitute equal amounts of honey or even agave syrup.
- Blue Cheese: You can substitute a creamy blue cheese for the Stilton. Award Winning Point Reyes Blue Cheese is my absolute favorite blue cheese on earth. Creamy and bold in flavor, it would work well in this salad. Maytag blue cheese is also a quality choice. Maytag blue cheese is produced in Iowa and is a cow’s milk cheese with exceptional blue cheese flavor and creamy texture.
How To Make This Salad
- Step 1: Soak the cranberries. Place the dried cranberries in a small bowl. Cover with the port wine, cover with plastic wrap and let them soak overnight in the refrigerator.
- Step 2: Toast the Almonds. When you’re ready to prepare the salad. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter almonds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake them 5 – 7 minutes or until just starting to turn golden and are fragrant. Watch them closely, as they can burn easily.
- Step 3: Build that salad. Place the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a large wooden salad bowl. Using a whisk, briskly mix together until the salad dressing is emulsified. Which basically means that the oil, water and vinegar has become one. You can also put the ingredients into a mason jar, seal with the lid and shake the daylights out of it.
- Step 4: Add the greens to the salad bowl and with tongs, mix well to coat the greens with the dressing.
Serve the salad: Place greens on a chilled salad plate, and sprinkle with cranberries, almonds and blue cheese.
Tips for Success
Yes and No. You can prepare the dressing in advance, either the day of or even a couple of days ahead of time. But you can’t dress the salad ahead of serving. The vinaigrette will cause the salad greens to wilt and become soggy.
Chill the plates in the refrigerator a few hours ahead of time. A crisp salad stays crisper when served on chilled plates.
No. Again, even if stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container, the greens will wilt once dressed with the vinaigrette.
Recipe for Louisiana Sunburst Salad
I hope you give this Cajun themed salad a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe star rating and leave a comment about your experience with the recipe. Bookmark this one and thank you Brennans. I’m interested to know, have you been to The Palace Cafe?
And if you have a favorite New Orleans, Louisiana themed salad recipe, let me know, I’d love to give it a try.
More Salad Side Dish Ideas
- Crunchy Spinach Salad with Bacon
- Baby Kale and Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
- Company Lettuce Salad with Chow Mein Noodles
- Avocado Mango Salad with Blue Cheese
And if you’re looking for more salad recipes, don’t my salad category. You’ll find lots of ideas for side salad, vegetable salads and dressing and vinaigrettes. Including the most popular salad recipe on my site for Salad with Hearts of Palm.
And if you’re salad fans like us, don’t miss my post on 9 Secrets To A Remarkable Tossed Salad. A step by step guide on how to make the best tossed salad ever.
Louisiana Sunburst Salad
- For the Salad
- 4 Tablespoon Dried cranberries Craisins
- 4 Tablespoons Ruby port wine
- 12 ounces Salad Greens Mesculin micx, mixed baby lettuces like mache, frisee, radicchio, spinach. or a Spring Mix works well here
- 2.25 ounce almonds sliced, toasted. A small package from the baking section at the grocery store.
- 1/2 cup Stilton cheese crumbled, or blue cheese
- For the Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup Raspberry vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 5-10 dashes Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Soak the cranberries overnight in the port. Or for at least 6 hours.
- To toast the almonds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter almonds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake them 5 – 7 minutes or until just starting to turn golden and are fragrant. Watch them closely, as they can burn easily.
- In a large mixing bowl, or wooden salad bowl, add the oil, water, vinegar, Tabasco, cinnamon and sugar. Whisk until emulsified. Add the lettuce and toss. Season with salt and pepper. You can also add the vinaigrette ingredients to a mason jar and shake the jar to emulsify.
- Place the greens on serving plates and garnish with the crumbled cheese, cranberries, and almonds. Serve immediately.
New Orleans Salad … It’s what’s for dinner