Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate
When it comes time to sign up for the holiday potluck, few people clamor for the space next to “salad.” Kale salad is just not the sort of dish that garners the instant appreciation that’s showered upon the guy who shows up with the queso. Such is the way of the world.
More often than not, winter salad’s purpose at holiday parties is to be the tiny speck of green on our plates that makes us feel less guilty about all of the spiced wine, whiskey glazed sweet potatoes, and mint brownies we are sure to ingest. Two bites of kale salad, and we are absolved.
Today’s recipe for Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate, however, is a side dish that’s so flavorful and festive, you’ll be heading back for second helpings, instead of forcing yourself to take a second bite.
Now, before you accuse me of being the menu-planning equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge for suggesting that you serve something as disturbingly healthy as kale salad at your holiday table, let’s pause a moment to consider the merits of this winter salad.
- It’s easy to make ahead. Because kale is a heartier green than spinach, kale salads can be dressed hours in advance without wilting; in fact, the longer this winter salad sits, the better it gets.
- It won’t occupy any space on your stovetop or oven, both of which are prime territory during a holiday meal.
- It’s red and green! So festive for Christmas.
- And, most importantly of all…
It’s ADDICTIVE. Yes, I just called kale salad addictive. The sweet pops of pomegranate against the salty, creamy feta and bright red onions will hook you at first bite.
The rich, toasty pecans add crunch and give the winter salad a feeling of holiday decadence. Finally, a zippy honey Dijon dressing ties the ingredients together and brings the kale pomegranate salad to life. I inhaled this winter salad for lunch as soon as I finished the photos, then made it again a few days later for dinner with friends, including a self-professed “kale skeptic.” She went back for seconds.
Dare to put your name in the space beside “salad” on that holiday potluck sign up sheet. This red and green Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate will give you reason to be proud of your contribution. It’s alive with flavor, easy to make, and ultra-festive for Christmas too.
Tools I used to make this recipe:
Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate
A simple, vibrant winter salad with kale, pomegranate, feta and pecans in a zippy Dijon vinaigrette. Easy for a light lunch, but special enough for a party.
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes (40 minutes if time allows for salad to marinade)
For the Winter Salad:
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 small red onion
- 10 ounces kale, stems removed and chopped into ribbons (if using bagged, pre-cut kale, use 8 ounces)
- 1 small pomegranate (to yield 1/2 cup seeds)
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parlsey,
For the Dijon Dressing:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on an ungreased baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5-10 minutes, tossing once or twice throughout, until toasted and fragrant. Watch carefully and set a timer so that the nuts do not burn. Remove from the baking sheet and set aside.
- Slice the onion thinly and place in a small bowl. Cover with cold tap water and set aside for 10 minutes while you finish preparing the rest of the salad (this will keep the onion's flavor but prevent the onion from having such a harsh, raw bite.) Drain the onion and lightly pat dry.
- Slice the pomegranate in half across its "equator" (NOT top to bottom). Working one half at a time, turn the pomegranate over an empty bowl, cut side down, and squeeze it gently all the way around to loosen the seeds. With the back of a wooden spoon, firmly wrap the back of the pomegranate, knocking the seeds into the bowl (be careful—the juice can splatter). Rotate the pomegranate then repeat, so that you tap it all the way around and knock out as many seeds as possible. Slice the pomegranate into big wedges and remove any seeds you missed with your fingers. Repeat with the second half. Measure out 1/2 cup of the seeds for the recipe, then save the rest for a different use.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper. Alternatively, you can shake all of the ingredients together in a tightly sealed mason jar.
- Place the kale and onion slices in a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the top. Toss to coat, then let the salad rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes if time allows (the flavors will meld and the kale will become more tender). Just before serving, sprinkle with the toasted pecans, pomegranate seeds, feta, and parsley. Toss lightly and serve.
Winter salad can be made up to 8 hours in advance (including adding the dressing—in fact, it will be better if you do!). Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve, or set out up to 1 hour in advance.
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