Pomegranate Salad: The latest addition to my Show Off Salads collection! Fresh pomegranate AND a pomegranate dressing, baby spinach, marinated raw kale, honey walnuts and blue cheese all come together in a giant festive salad for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every occasion in between.
Also … announcing the RecipeTin Eats’ 30 Day Holiday Salad Marathon!
Holiday Salad MARATHON!
Welcome to Day 1 of the RecipeTin Eats’ Holiday Salad Marathon! For something completely different from the usual holiday baking countdowns out there, I’m bringing you a new salad recipe EVERY SINGLE DAY from today through to Christmas Eve!
That’s 30 new salad recipes* that will land on RTE between now and Christmas. 30! Thirty! THIRTY!!!! And that’s in addition to the 3 usual recipes you will continue to receive each week!
* I get weekends off
Are you excited? I am! Because aren’t we all bored of the usual tomato-cucumber-lettuce garden salad routine??
So for Salad #1 I offer this festive, substantial, something-a-little-different DOUBLE Pomegranate Salad!
This festive looking salad has holidays written all over it. Think Christmas/ Thanksgiving, Easter, and every in between. This dish is also great for any occasions when you want to put out what I call a Show Off Salad (here’s more of them): Salads that have something a little different about them, and are full of interesting textures and unique-yet-familiar flavours.
For today’s salad, rather than the usual token sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, we’re using LOADS in this recipe for a big hit of fresh juicy pops as well as of course all that vibrant colour. And:
- Pomegranate Dressing – Tart and sweet;
- Marinated kale – Simple, adds bulk and makes raw kale infinitely more delicious;
- Baby spinach – For variety so it’s not just all kale;
- Dried cranberries – Yet another fruity dimension, almost like dried pomegranate seeds!
- Blue Cheese – For intensely savoury, salty pops playing off against the sweet/tart dressing and nuts (yes blue-cheese-haters, you can sub); and
- Cinnamon Honey Walnuts (optional) – Because …. they’re amazing? And they bring welcome textural crunch to the salad.
I love how this salad has such a variety of textures, colours and flavours that just work together to so well!
Pomegranates can be a bit pricey but it’s the star ingredient for this salad and you only need one. Plus, you get more seeds out of it than you think – at least 1 cup, usually more!
What goes in my Pomegranate Salad
Here’s what goes in the salad:
- Pomegranates – Fresh is best for the juiciest pops of colour, with the extra benefit of the sheer satisfaction you get to experience removing the seeds by smacking the pomegranates. Yes, it is oddly satisfying…
- Raw marinated kale – Yes, I said RAW but before all you Kale Haters go running for the hills, hear me out. I like to MARINATE my kale which tenderises the leaves and softens the harshness of the distinct kale flavour. All you need is 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, then get your hands in there to scrunch/soften the kale and leave for 30 minutes to tenderise. SO MUCH TASTIER!!!
Oh and this is my trick for how I remove kale leaves from the stems quickly!:
- Blue cheese – Any cheese that’s creamy, salty but crumble-able (is that a word?) is fine here. If you’re just starting to dip your toes in the bluer waters of the cheese world (see what I did there), opt for Blue Castello. It is an excellent mild blue that’s a good way to introduce sceptics to blue cheese. I don’t have a favourite, I just generally love all manner of blue cheese!
- Dried cranberries – For an extra little sprinkle of holiday flavour that complements the pomegranate!
- Citrus or stone fruit – I don’t always include it but for the sake of giving you all options, I’ve added it in the recipe. It adds yet another element of both colour and fresh juicy interest! I used grapefruit because it’s what I have, but I prefer blood or normal oranges. Peaches and nectarines are so good too, just not quite in season yet!
Here’s what you need for the tangy and sweet Pomegranate Dressing:
Pomegranate Molasses is the star ingredient here. Its a thick sweet-tart syrup commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine that tastes a bit like top-shelf balsamic, like we might use for things like Caprese Salad – with the bonus of a lovely pomegranate flavour. It’s made by reducing pomegranate juice and thickening with sugar to make it syrupy, so it makes a beautiful glossy and sticky dressing that coats the salad well.
Where to buy pomegranate molasses – It’s pretty common nowadays, sold in the vinegar section of everyday grocery stores. While you can get expensive brands, you can also find good value ones. The one pictured above is from Harris Farm Markets (Sydney) and cost $5. Pricier than most vinegars yes, but you get good bang for your buck because a little goes a long way and it’s excellent to use as an instant salad dressing – just drizzle over any greens (raw, steamed, roasted). It’s got such an intense flavour you don’t need much!
It also makes an excellent straight substitute for Balsamic Glaze in any recipe.
Honey Cinnamon Candied Walnuts
And last but not least, here’s what you need for those crispy Honey Cinnamon Candied Walnuts – honey, cinnamon and walnuts. You’re shocked, right?
Alternative to walnuts – Pecans would also be really great in this. Almonds would also be great – I would roast them whole (if they’re raw almonds) then roughly chop into large pieces.
Making the Honey Cinnamon Candied Walnuts
Just toss the walnuts in the honey and cinnamon, bake for 12 minutes, then leave to cool so they become crispy!
How and what to serve with Pomegranate Salad
A salad this pretty and unique will be at home at any holiday or celebratory feast. Think Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays and other celebrations. I see it worthily served alongside a big juicy roast turkey, a grand beef standing rib roast, the crispiest ever pork crackling roast or a glistening Maple Glazed Ham.
It’s also got good oomph factor, which in my world means this is substantial enough to be a meal thanks to the kale which is definitely more filling than the usual leafy greens.
So it would definitely also function as a centrepiece in a salad spread for a healthy and veggo-friendly feast – something I’ve been doing more frequently recently for lunch gatherings out of the sheer convenience of being able to do all the prep ahead and not cooking hot dishes, plus it caters to the “Calorie Conscious”. This is particularly relevant to the RecipeTin Family, amongst whom there is always at least one person or another on a “diet”!
Here’s a suggestion for a selection of salads for a Salad Spread that I’d serve alongside this Pomegranate Salad:
Salad Spread Suggestion
I know that sounds maybe too healthy and all, serving just big platters of salad for a lunch. But believe me when I say inevitably a side of crusty bread and butter will make an appearance, or flatbread for stuffing. I’m not that virtuous! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Pomegranate Salad – with Spinach, Kale, Honey Walnuts & Pomegranate Dressing
As for the pomegranates – use pre-seeded if you must, but there’s something so satisfying about smacking them out yourself! …. Oh, and it’s juicier and fresher too!
BONUS: Keeps pretty well even once dressed. SERVES: 3 as a filling lunch, 8-10 as a side salad.
Marinated kale (tenderised for tastiness, Note 1):
- 5 kale stems (big and leafy, sub baby rocket/arugula but skip marinating)
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 pomegranate , big, juicy (or 1 cup pomegranate arils, Note 2)
- 8 cups (120g/4.5oz) baby spinach (or baby rocket/arugula)
- 100g/3.5 oz blue cheese , crumbled yourself (Note 3)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins, craisins)
- 2 blood oranges , normal oranges, yellow peach, nectarine or grapefruit (optional, for extra colour/juicy/interest)
Honey Cinnamon Walnuts:
- 1 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
- 1/4 cup honey (runny, so warm if super thick), or maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (Note 4)
- 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
Remove leaves: Grab the base of the stalk then run your fist up the stalk to remove the leaves.
Slice: bundle the kale leaves on a chopping board, then slice 0.5 cm / 1/5″ thick.
Scrunch: Place in bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands to scrunch in order to soften leaves and coat everything with the oil. Do this for 20 seconds. Leave for 30 minutes to marinate – leaves will soften. Try it – much tastier than plain raw!
Toss: Place walnuts in a bowl, drizzle with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon and salt. Mix, spread on paper lined baking tray.
Bake: Bake at 180°C/350°F (160°C fan) for 15 minutes, tossing once halfway. Leave to cool, then use fingers to roughly break walnuts up into slightly smaller pieces.
Place ingredients in a jar and shake very well, being sure that there is no molasses left on the bottom of the jar. (Shake in jar is better than whisking to bring this dressing together).
Remove Pomegranate Seeds:
Cut pomegranate in half. Over a bowl, turn cut face downwards, then use a wooden spoon to (very!) firmly smack the back of the pomegranate. The seeds will fly out through your fingers into the bowl. It’s very satisfying!!!
Keep smacking all over the skin until the seeds are all out. Pick out any white pith that fell out, then use seeds per recipe. You will probably get some juices pooling in the bowl; add this to the dressing too.
Slice fruit (if using):
Peaches, nectarines: Halve, remove stone, then cut into 4mm / 1/6″ slices.
Grapefruit, oranges: Cut off peel and pith, then segment (see this video at 41 sec for demo)
Dress greens lightly: Place kale and spinach leaves in a giant bowl. Drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of Dressing then toss very well.
Layer half: Pour half kale/spinach into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with 1/3 EACH of walnuts, blue cheese (crumbled), pomegranates, orange segments, and cranberries.
Presentation layer: Top with remaining kale & spinach, then remaining walnuts, blue cheese, pomegranates, orange segments and cranberries. Drizzle over remaining dressing just before serving.
Serving: Best served freshly assembled but this salad will hold up much better than most because kale doesn’t go as soggy once dressing, it’s even good the next day!
2. Pomegranate – In some places, fresh pomegranate seeds are sold in cups. But nothing beats fresh – it’s juicier, and giving the pomegranate a good whack to remove the seeds is all part of the fun!!
Avoid frozen – they lose colour when they thaw!
3. Blue cheese – Gives a fabulous hit of extra wow factor in anything you add it to for the intense flavour, little pops of creaminess and salt. Use anything that can be crumbled, but not creamy blue brie. Blue Castello is a very mild creamy blue cheese that is reasonably good value – good for those cagey about blue cheese.
Goat’s cheese or Danish feta (creamy) – These make excellent alternatives, for the blue cheese-shy types, as it has a similar creamy crumble-able texture and flavour profile. Firm Greek Feta makes an adequate substitute (but it’s not as creamy).
Don’t buy pre-crumbled or packet feta if possible – it’s dry and a waste of money.
4. Pomegranate Molasses – sold in bottles in the vinegar section, it’s a reduction that looks like balsamic glaze with the same thick syrupy consistency and a similar sweet/tart flavour. Except it’s made from pomegranates! Common nowadays, available at large grocery stores and no more expensive than balsamic reduction. See in post for more ways to use it – excellent quick drizzle option for salads, you’ll never look back once you try it!
5. Storage – dressed salad keeps better than most because kale is hardier than usual leafy greens. It’s still decent for 2 days – keep in the fridge.
Make ahead – just prepare all the components separately, then assemble just prior to serving. The marinated kale will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings.
Life of Dozer
Not overly enthusiastic about this Salad Marathon…