Ah, spring! Here in Tennessee, a thousands greens explode on the scene, along with pastel blooms that burst open throughout the season. It’s glorious. It’s also when we start eating more salad greens, dressed up in pretty colors: like Mandarin Coconut Salad.
I first became acquainted with mandarin oranges as a child—the kind that came in syrup-filled containers, the kind that tasted as much of sugar as fruit. Mandarin coconut salad features fresh-from-the-peel mandarin oranges. They’re my go-to for orange varieties, a perfect snack size and fabulous whole in smoothies!Jump to Recipe
Nuts for Coconut
Coconut was not a thing in my family growing up, because Mom didn’t like it. So it took a bit more living to fully experience the joys of coconut. Today, coconut is a staple in my home. But all is not 100% joyful.
We have a small coconut war in our house: I like the organic, unsweetened variety with the fresh, nutty flesh unadorned with a additives, and my husband prefers the sweetened variety. It’s like the playing card game War: you never know who’ll turn up victor, and the tide turns in an instant. It’s a friendly battle, and he often wins (especially when he shops for us).
You can use either variation of coconut with this salad. Or get adventurous and extract it from a fresh coconut! The pictured version of the recipe shows sweetened coconut.
About Mandarin Coconut Salad
I recommend Spring Mix for this salad, for its variety of flavors and textures, but you can modify to taste. It would be good on a bed of spinach, iceberg, and most leaf lettuces.
The other secret to this salad is the homemade dressing that goes with it, featuring a variety of Asian-inspired ingredients and—you guessed it—more mandarin orange (albeit zest) along with a few additional seasonings. The tang of the dressing balances nicely with the citrus and coconut and adds another interesting flavor layer along with the salad greens.
Serve plated or in a salad bowl along with a sandwich or soup for a light meal. Add roasted chicken strips to the salad for a hearty, one-bowl meal.
“Plants are more courageous than almost all human beings: an orange tree would rather die than produce lemons, whereas instead of dying the average person would rather be someone they are not.”Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Mandarin Coconut Salad
- salad spinner, optional
- 4 mandarin oranges peeled and segmented
- ¼ C coconut flakes
- ¼ C almond slices
- 1 green onion chopped
- 4 C spring mix
- 2 C baby spinach
- ½ tsp orange zest
- 2 pcs crystallized ginger
- ½ tsp sesame seed
- ¼ C extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ C rice wine vinegar
- 4 TBSP soy sauce
- Peel, segment and remove stringy bits from oranges.
- Chop green onion.
- Wash and spin greens.
- Toss greens in large bowl.
- Layer oranges, onion, coconut and almond over lettuce bed.
- Zest mandarin orange.
- Combine all ingredients and mix well.
- Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Drizzle dressing over individual servings to taste.
Serving SuggestionsServe with a turkey sandwich, a side of artisanal bread or alongside kickin’ chicken noodle soup. Add chicken strips to the salad for a hearty, one-dish meal.
- If you don’t mind white bits on the mandarin oranges, you can save a lot of time on prep. It does not appreciably affect taste.
- To easily remove white bits from oranges, rinse gently in cold water. They will then peel off easily.
- You can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut to taste.
- Want a fresh supply of green onions? Save the root you cut off store-bought and plant in container. Chop off top part, and watch a new green grow in its place!