A spring salad to share with family and friends

This mandarin orange salad is the kind of dish that has you wanting seconds from the first bite. My aunt is the one who first made it for us at a family gathering, and she graciously shared the recipe she had gotten from a friend. Since then, this festive salad has become one of my go-to sides for brunch or spring celebrations.

Shared recipes are some of my favorites, because I know a recipe that has been passed along for years between family and friends is usually going to be a really good one. Recipes that travel like this have a special life of their own. I have changed the vinaigrette slightly over the years by adding champagne vinegar and my own herbs. So, I have added my own stamp to the recipe, but I still think of my aunt and my mom every time I make it. Recipes like this salad are an important way to remember the people we love and the meals we've shared.

This salad is a classic in our house and it finds its way on the menu for many special occasions. Those canned mandarin oranges may be a bit retro, but they make this salad delicious and easy to assemble. I love the look of this colorful orange salad for Easter. Since it's a showy salad, I usually serve it on a large platter or in shallow bowl because it brightens any buffet.

Sometimes when you're entertaining or putting a holiday meal together you need a simple side. This salad dressing is something you can make ahead and have in your fridge. The almonds can also be made the day before and stored in a airtight container. I think the flavors of the oranges and almonds pair well with quiche, ham or any breakfast casserole. So now in keeping my family's tradition, I am sharing this recipe with you.

- Amy Appling of Hinsdale is the paper's food columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].