In my ambitious kitchen right now I have two kinds of flour, four kinds of sugar, five kinds of nuts, more than enough butter, and a collection of sprinkles. Of course, there are nutritious things too, but how can I notice them when it is December? This salad helps—it is festive and healthful.
Pomegranates have been cultivated for thousands of years and are a part of ancient myth and symbology from Europe to India. In Ancient Egypt, the pomegranate was regarded as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. I was in culinary school when I first cut into a pomegranate to make this salad for a dinner party with classmates. To my left sat a guy who would tourne potatoes for dinner at home just to get in the extra practice. He was in the running for a coveted internship at the French Laundry (which he later got). Across the table was the guy who planned to move to the beach and open up a restaurant after school. He was weak and skinny from an autoimmune disease that pushed him to chase the dream with urgency. Then there was the girl who was not even 20 yet, but could cook with such a cool and practiced hand. Her youthful dream, as were so many young cooks at the time, was to be on the Food Network. Then there was me, just starting to put out feelers to editors and authors about food writing jobs. As we ate the dreams and apprehension for the future were suspended and replaced with the comfort of a slow leisurely end-of-year meal.
Like ambition and dreams, pomegranates can be messy but are worth the effort. To remove the juicy arils, this is a great trick. Or you can just put on a black t-shirt and let the juice fly as you gently remove the seeds. In this age of year-round apples and tomatoes, pomegranates are one of the few truly seasonal fruits. This salad is a simple and delicious way to enjoy them.
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar (unsweetened) or your favorite vinegar
- 1 tsp. fresh tarragon or ½ tsp. dried
- ⅓ cup olive oil (or more to taste)
- 1 5-oz. container mixed greens or chopped heart of romaine
- ½ cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
- ⅓ cup honey-roasted peanuts
- 2 oz. soft goat cheese (chevre)
- For the dressing, in a jar combine all the ingredients. Top with a tight-fitting lid and shake well until thoroughly combined.
- Place the salad greens in a large bowl and add a little of the dressing; toss to coat. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients on top of the greens and drizzle the toppings with just a touch of dressing. Serve. Alternately, after tossing the greens, you can divide them among four to six serving plates then proceed as above. The toppings and dressing can be added to taste.
- The dressing will keep, refrigerated for up to a week. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes then shake well before using.