Need a showstopping salad? This gorgeous Pomegranate Salad with Pears, Pecans, and Goat Cheese (or Feta) is it ... a delicious, easy recipe that's as perfect for the holidays as it is for busy weeknights!
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Okay, how stunning is this jewel-like salad?
Pomegranates are one of those unique fruits that I sometimes forget about. Which is a shame, because they are so delicious and fun to eat. So when I was developing holiday recipes, I decided to show them off in this eye-catching Pomegranate Salad.
This easy recipe pairs those crunchy seeds with mixed greens, pears, pecans, goat cheese, and a mouthwatering vinaigrette. The result is a yummy salad recipe that I know you're going to find totally irresistible!
I like serving this beautiful salad for special occasions, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Valentine's Day. Yet it's easy enough to throw together on a busy weeknight, especially if you prep the ingredients ahead of time. Who wouldn't love a tempting treat like this on a gloomy Wednesday, right?
Ready to get cooking? Then, keep reading for all the details and lots of easy tips!
Despite its fancy appearance, this beautiful salad with pomegranate seeds is deceptively easy to make. Here's what you'll need:
- Mixed Greens - I used the packaged mixed baby greens you can find in most grocery stores. You could substitute other lettuces though ... see my tips below.
- Pomegranate - These delicious, crunchy seeds are what gives this salad its jewel-like appearance. Not sure how to cut a fresh pomegranate? Check out my easy tips below.
- Pear - Fresh pear slices add a delightful seasonal touch to this vibrant recipe.
- Pecans - These crunchy nuts add to the salad's gorgeous appearance and lend lots of flavor, too.
- Goat Cheese - Creamy goat cheese pairs perfectly with this crunchy salad. Not a fan? You can always substitute another cheese. I'm sharing some substitution ideas below.
- Maple Cider Vinaigrette - This tasty dressing is quick to make with fresh shallots, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. One taste, and you'll want to use it on all your salads!
When is pomegranate in season?
In North America, pomegranates are typically in season from September through November. Because they store well, you can usually find them in December and January, too, and sometimes imported fruit is available at other times of year.
How to Choose a Pomegranate
Look for pomegranates that are plump and round, and that feel heavy for their size. While you should avoid fruit with deep cuts, minor surface abrasions are fine. They're ready to eat once picked, but can be stored in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for a couple months.
This recipe is fairly flexible. Here are some ideas for easy substitutions:
- Greens - Use any sort of baby greens for this salad, either a mix or a single variety (like arugula), or softer heads of lettuce, like green or butter. You could also use spinach or even massaged kale.
- Fruit - Feel free to substitute another seasonal fruit for the pears, such as apples or persimmons.
- Nuts - Swap in your favorite nuts, like walnuts, pistachios, or sliced almonds ... anything with a little crunch. Candied nuts would also be delish!
- Cheese - Hate goat cheese? No worries! Simply substitute feta cheese or blue cheese instead.
- Vegan - This Pomegranate Salad is totally vegan, except for the cheese. So just skip the cheese for an amazing, 100% plant-based recipe.
How to Make a Pomegranate Salad
Ready to get started? This salad mostly just needs to be assembled, but there are a few components that need to be prepped first.
Prepare the Vinaigrette
The shallot in this flavorful vinaigrette dressing is lightly pickled, which takes away any bite and makes it extra delicious.
Begin by combining a finely diced shallot with the apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Set that aside until the other components are done and the salad is ready to assemble.
Then right before serving, whisk in the olive oil and maple syrup and season generously to taste with salt and fresh-cracked pepper. So easy!
Toast the Pecans
Next, you'll want to toast the pecan halves. This brings out their crunch and nutty flavor.
Place the pecans in a small dry skillet over medium heat, then cook them until they're lightly browned and toasted (stirring often). Make sure to keep a close eye on them so they don't burn.
Once the pecans are toasted, transfer them to a cutting board or small plate, then set aside to cool.
Seed the Pomegranate
Have you ever cut open a fresh pomegranate? I'm someone whose mom always admonished, "Don't eat the berries!" whenever we encountered a strange plant. So I'm fascinated that someone not only thought to crack one open, but also to sample the jewel like seeds! I'm thankful they did though, because the seeds (also called arils) are so juicy and crunchy.
This fruit is actually very easy to work with once you know how to cut it open. Start by removing a thin slice from both ends, then lightly score the sides of the fruit from top to bottom (about five to six times total). Don't go too deep, you want to avoid puncturing the seeds as much as possible.
Grasp the scored fruit and carefully pull the sections apart. Use your fingers to gently separate the seeds from the membrane. Discard any soft or discolored seeds as you do.
Tip: Make sure to wear dark clothes (or an apron) because the seeds can stain, and they might spray a little as you open the fruit. I also recommend working over a bowl in your sink for the easiest clean up.
Assemble the Salad
Once you've prepared the dressing, toasted the nuts, and prepped the pomegranate, it's time to assemble the salad.
Start by tossing the greens with just enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat them. You may have a little vinaigrette left over, which is totally okay.
Tip: avoiding over-dressing your salad with vinaigrette will prevent it from wilting and becoming soggy.
Once the greens are coated with dressing, place them in a large serving bowl. Then, top them with the remaining ingredients in this order:
- Pomegranate Seeds
- Pear Slices - I like to fan them out for a pretty presentation!
- Crumbled Goat Cheese
Doesn't it look gorgeous? And it tastes just as good! I think the colors are perfect for a Christmas salad, but don't save it just for holidays.
Tip: if you have any leftover vinaigrette, drizzle it lightly over the pears. This will keep them from browning.
Preparing the Salad Ahead of Time
This salad needs to be assembled right before serving. Otherwise, the tender salad greens will wilt, and the salad will become soggy.
However, you can prepare the individual components in advance. To get a head start, prepare the vinaigrette and seed the pomegranate, then refrigerate both. Toast the nuts, then store in an airtight container.
You can do all of this up to three days in advance. Then, slice the pear, dress the greens, and assemble the salad just before serving. Simple and easy!
Looking for more seasonal salads? Try one of these recipes next:
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Gorgonzola Salad ... also with pomegranates!
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
- Winter Kale Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Freekeh
- Roasted Pumpkin Salad
- Warm Farro Kale Salad with Feta
- Kale Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Vegetables
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced (about ¼ cup)
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- kosher salt
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 8 to 10 ounces mixed salad greens
- 1 large pomegranate
- 1 large pear, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese (about 1 cup)
- Combine shallot and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Just before serving salad, whisk in olive oil and maple syrup. Season generously to taste with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, place pecans in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pecans are lightly toasted (watch closely). Remove from pan and set aside.
- Cut a thin slice from top and bottom of pomegranate. Lightly score sides (vertically), the gently pry apart. Use finger to remove seeds.
- In a large bowl, gently toss greens with vinaigrette, adding just enough dressing to lightly coat greens.
- Transfer greens to a large serving bowl / platter, then top with pomegranate seeds, pear, pecans, and goat cheese. If you have leftover vinaigrette, drizzle over pears.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!