The holiday season is upon us. It’s time for friends and family and merriment – and also cookies and candy and booze and rich food. I approach this time of year with equal parts enthusiasm and trepidation. It’s easy to indulge, and even over indulge, so I aim to create dishes that provide balance at a time when meals are dominated by butter and cream and carbs.
A salad is the easiest way to get lots of nutrients on a plate, but I also wanted it to be refreshing and acidic on the palate, not to mention vibrant and delicious. Let’s be honest, if you are going to serve salad at a holiday meal, it better look as good as it tastes if you expect people to save some precious real estate on their plate for it.
For this seasonal salad, I threw in red pears, pomegranate seeds, shaved fennel, pecans and arugula. It’s a pretty festive combo, but I think my favorite part is the dressing, a combination of reserved pomegranate juice, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt & pepper. It’s got a nice sweetness and depth to it, and a little bit of it goes a long way.
A few things about salad dressings: Store bought is the worst (it literally tastes like fake sugar and chemicals…because that’s what it is), and there is nothing I hate more than on overdressed salad – you are supposed to taste the ingredients! Dressing is a compliment, not the star. A good rule of thumb is if you put on the dressing and toss the salad and there is leftovers pooling at the bottom, you put too much.
Anyways, I digress. Bring this salad as a side dish to any holiday gathering for easy assembly or pack it for lunch when your go-to salad is feeling less than inspired. Plus now you know how to make your own dressing, so that’s one less sad salad in the world!
- 6 oz. of arugula
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 red pear with skin, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup pecans
- 1/2 Tbs pomegranate juice
- 1/2 Tbs maple syrup
- 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Toss all the salad ingredients into a bowl, or plate individual, layering the ingredients (as pictured).
- For the dressing, combine the first three ingredients, and then slowly whisk in the olive olive until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Top the salad with dressing and enjoy!