Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs

We’re stepping a bit outside the Thanksgiving box today.

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is the perfect vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.

Because, although not a traditional holiday side dish, this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely worthy of a spot on your holiday table. It’s full of dried cranberries, whole grains, white beans and seasonal fresh herbs like fresh rosemary, sage and thyme and literally is a Thanksgiving explosion in your mouth. You’re going to get this one on the menu STAT.

I’ve been a big fan of grain salads for quite a while now, as evidenced by this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad, this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad and this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans. I love them because they are filled with a ton of healthy ingredients and filling to boot. The whole grains give them plenty of heft to make them completely suitable as an entire meal, although they are equally delicious (and the portions go a bit further) if you serve them as a side dish among all the other delicious things you typically serve up for a holiday meal.

I’m not joking when I say tell you this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs tastes like your entire Thanksgiving menu in a bowl. Sure, there’s no turkey in there (although you could easily add some and I wouldn’t be one bit upset about it) but just the cranberries and the fresh herbs alone are enough to mentally transport you to arguably the most well-known food holiday of the year. I love allll the fresh herbs, but there’s also just something about fresh sage in a recipe that really screams fall and all the deliciousness that comes with it.

A bowl of this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is filling enough to be a delicious vegan holiday meal.

As far as making the dish goes, it couldn’t be easier. Not only does it come together fairly quickly (the longest step will be cooking up the grains) but it can also be made in advance and served cold or at room temperature, which means it’s easy to fit into an already busy cooking and kitchen schedule once T-day rolls around.

For the whole grains, I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous because they were what we had on hand, but feel free to use other varieties such as quinoa, barley or even wild rice. I also added in some toasted pine nuts, and I highly recommend you do not skip this step, even if you want to sub in some other type of toasted nut for that little extra crunch. (Pecans? Almonds? So many possibilities.)

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is an easy, make-ahead side dish for the holidays.

I would also like to point out that said Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely vegan, which makes it a delicious, healthy, high-protein option for anyone in your group that may have certain dietary preferences. It’s a great way to serve them up some protein and filling flavor without having to bend over backwards making some sort of interesting Tofurkey creation.

Since I was developing recipes so far in advance this holiday season due to our little one’s arrival, I served this up as a side dish at my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration we held down here in Santa Barbara at the beginning of October. Let’s just say my sisters-in-law were already requesting I make it as our contribution to the Thanksgiving meal when we go celebrate with them in a couple of weeks.  I hope you decide to add it to your menu as well!

Serve this vegan Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs as a hearty side dish or light, healthy meal during the holidays.

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs
Prep Time
10 mins

This festive vegan side dish is full of filling whole grains, protein-rich white beans and pine nuts, and the freshest herbs of the season. 

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 2 cups cooked grains of your choice (I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous)
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern or white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two days before serving.

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs |

Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider

We’ve almost made it to the first weekend in December! And I’m ready to celebrate.

Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider | CaliGirl Cooking

I don’t know about you, but now that Thanksgiving is behind us, I’m ready to jump into Christmas full-force. I’ve already shared one of my favorite winter cocktail recipes with you (see Boilo), but when I had a big jug of spiced apple cider sitting in my refrigerator just begging to be used, I couldn’t help but come up with this toasty, cozy, delicious recipe for Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider.

Now, I’m no expert in spiked hot apple cider, but I’m pretty sure whiskey goes amazingly well with both apples and even more so with anything that has the word “spiced” in its name. I’m also pretty sure that once we get into the month of December, we need to make everything as “Christmas-y” as possible (Who’s with me?!) Hence why we couldn’t just stop at adding whiskey and had to throw in some cinnamon sticks and fresh cranberries too.

Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider | CaliGirl Cooking

This cocktail is so easy to throw together, and chances are you already have most of the ingredients in your pantry, on your bar cart, or on hand in the refrigerator because you got way too ambitious and thought you were going to make your own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and then ran out of time while you were making everything else and you resorted to the canned stuff. But come to think of it, even if you DID get around to making your own cranberry sauce, why not throw some into this cocktail? I’m all about experimentation, especially when there’s booze involved.

Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider | CaliGirl Cooking

What are everyone’s plans for the coming weekend? Chris and I have a holiday party to go to on Saturday, and then Sunday is one of our favorite days of the year in Santa Barbara because….LIGHTED BOAT PARADE! We are super lucky because one of our friends has a boat in the harbor so we get front row seats every year and it is so much fun! It is also very special to us because (cue the sappy romantic music) it’s where Chris asked me to “officially” be his girlfriend. This will be our third year watching the parade together and our first as an engaged couple! (1…2…3… “Awwww!”)

I’m definitely thinking about bringing a batch of this belly-warming Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider along with some bubbles (of course!) to celebrate and to kick off the Christmas season with all of our friends. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend with friends and family. Cozy up with a warm drink (ahem…hot apple cider…ahem), light up a fire in the fireplace, open a book, and take a moment to breathe in the lovely scent of your Christmas tree. After all, we only get to do this once a year. XO

Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider | CaliGirl Cooking

Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider

Yield: Makes 2 servings


  • 1 ½ cups spiced apple cider
  • 4 ounces whiskey
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  1. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a heavy simmer and cranberries have split open to release their juices. Turn off heat and serve as soon as mixture is cool enough to drink.
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Boozy Spiced Hot Apple Cider | CaliGirl Cooking

We’re diving into this holiday stuff head first and I couldn’t be happier!