These adorable jack o’ lantern salads are perfect for your next Halloween dinner party or for serving ghosts and goblins before a night of trick or treating. They are topped with a tangy peanut dressing. Vegan & gluten-free.
I have a confession to make.
You know how every year the Christmas decorations show up in stores earlier and earlier? And invariably there’s a woman pushing her cart past those aisles and saying grumpily, “Christmas decorations? It’s not even Halloween yet!!”
Well, I’m the person who is skipping through those aisles, pressing all of the buttons on the musical snow globes and dancing snowmen.
As that lady with the cart bemoans the extending season, I’m cooing over ornaments, perusing the stocking stuffers, and making my case to my husband, David, about how this should be the year he puts together an advent calendar for me.
Truth be told, for many years I made a point to go to stores on October 31st, because I knew that’s when the Halloween items would get relegated to sale shelves and all of the Christmas stuff would come out in earnest.
It was like a starting gun on the holidays.
The way I feel about Christmas is the way David feels about Halloween.
He loves the smell of rubber masks, admiring all of the costumes and jealously admitting that kids today have it so much better where costumes are concerned.
(“You want to be Strawberry Shortcake? Here’s a hard plastic mask and a plastic apron with her picture on it.”)
For years when we lived in an apartment he’d fantasize about living in a house, where he could decorate for Halloween right with goblins hanging in the trees and carved pumpkins on the stoop.
So while we’ve been in a house a couple of years now, this year we’ve done it all.
We’ve carved the pumpkins. Ghost lights are lining the walkway. There’s a light-up bat in the window. There’s a ghostly figure hanging in our tree.
David is thrilled to the gills. All that’s left is to check costumes off the list, and we’ve done it.
Jack o’ lantern salad with tangy peanut dressing
I got extra holiday bonus points by carving not only a pumpkin, but also this orange.
Just cut off the top, and hollow out the middle (saving the inner portions to use in the salad). Then use a small knife to cut a silly, scary, or angry face.
After making a salad of green leaf lettuce, carrots, celery, orange, and peanuts, I added a tangy peanut dressing.
I served these jack o’lantern salads at our annual pumpkin carving party.
If you decide to make them for your Halloween party, I recommend carving the orange lanterns ahead of time and keeping them in the refrigerator. Then add the salad into each one just before serving.
You can carve a variety of faces, and then guests can pick the one that suits them best.
These jack o’lantern salads are a mixture of nutty and sweet. And hey, that’s Halloween in a nutshell.
Jack O’Lantern Salad with Tangy Peanut Dressing
For the jack o' lantern salad
- 4 oranges medium-sized
- 2 cups green leaf lettuce chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped small
- 1 carrot grated
- 1/2 red bell pepper chopped small
- 1/4 cup peanuts
To make the jack o' lantern salad
- Cut the tops off of four oranges about a quarter of the way from the top. Use a knife to carefully cut around the edges of the inside of the orange. Remove as much of the orange flesh as possible and dice it, removing any seeds you find. To clean out the oranges the rest of the way, use a handheld juicer to juice the oranges and tops. You can drink the orange juice or use it for another recipe. After the oranges are cleaned out, use a small knife to cut jack o' lantern-style faces onto them.
- Fill each orange with some green leaf lettuce, celery, carrot, and bell pepper. Top with a pinch of peanuts and diced orange. (You will likely have more orange left over than you need.) Serve with Asian-style peanut dressing that guests can pour on their salads.
To make the tangy peanut dressing
- Whisk peanut butter, toasted sesame oil, brown rice vinegar, hot sauce, tamari, and three tablespoons of water in a small bowl until smooth.
- If the dressing is too thick, add additional water (up to one tablespoon) until the dressing has reached your desired smoothness and intensity of flavor. If the dressing is too thin, add an additional teaspoon of peanut butter. Keep in mind that the dressing will thicken in the refrigerator, and don't add additional water until you're about to serve, if necessary. Taste the dressing and add salt, if needed.