It’s official. I’m declaring this to be Pomegranate week. Ever since last week’s post on How To Open a Pomegranate Without the Mess, I have been hooked.
These ruby studded beauties have always been a favorite of mine, but I have never been so addicted to them as I am right now. I ate five of them in two days, and just came home with seven more. Seven! You know you mean business when you enter the checkout with nothing but a basket full of pomegranates.
*tries to avoid awkward looks from the cashier*
Last week I mentioned how much I adore fall flavors in my salads, and what I heard from you guys was clear and resounding agreement. Fall salads = the bomb. I’m so glad to know we’re on the same page.
When it comes to Autumn, the first things I think of are squash, apples, pears, pecans, cranberries… but I have to remind myself that pomegranates deserve a place on the list, too. Although they are typically available all year ’round, they are actually in season during the fall and winter — and they are so good when they are at their peak!
As satisfying as it is to eat handfuls of pomegranate seeds straight from a bowl, one of my favorite ways to use them is tossed into a salad. They lend an unexpected burst of flavor and brightness, and are a great way to change things up from the usual.
Plus, they are seriously gorgeous. Can you say, festive?! That pop of red against the green leaves makes this salad even more appropriate for the season. The roasted squash gives it just a touch of heartiness, without being heavy. This would be the perfect side to a Thanksgiving meal, or a healthy appetizer for Christmas dinner. I’m sure you could work it into your Hanukkah feast, too, if you were so inclined. It may not be traditional, but I’m sure no one would complain once they had a bite.
What’s your favorite fall food? Apples, pumpkins, pomegranates… something else? Let me know in the comments!
Autumn Squash Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Warm Cider Dressing
Serves 3-4 — vegan, gluten-free
For the dressing:
1 cup apple cider
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP maple syrup
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
1 medium acorn squash (or other winter squash)
1-2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup pecan halves
About 6-7 cups of arugula, spinach, or other mixed greens
1/2-3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
For the dressing:
1. In a small pot over medium heat, combine the apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup (this should take about 10 minutes, but the time will vary, so keep an eye on it). Stir occasionally to check the progress.
2. Once reduced, remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the powdered ginger. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. Set aside. (Dressing can be stored in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks. I prefer to use the dressing warm. Before using, reheat gently over low heat, and whisk well.)
For the salad:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F., and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise, and use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds and stringy insides. Cut each half into 1/2-1 inch thick slices.
3. Toss the squash slices with the olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Place on the foil-lined baking sheet, and roast for 10-12 minutes. Flip each slice over, and roast for another 10-12 minutes, or until tender and browned.
4. Meanwhile, toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir, or shake the pan, every minute or two to keep the pecans from burning. Toast for 5-6 minutes, or until slightly darkened and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. In a large bowl, or on a serving platter, toss together the greens. Add the pecans and pomegranate seeds. When you’re ready to serve, top with the roasted squash while it’s still warm. (Note: squash slices can be served as-is, or you can let them cool enough to handle and gently remove the skin — it should come off easily — and cut the squash into bite-sized chunks.) Top with a drizzle of warm dressing, and serve immediately.