It's winter out there, even if it doesn't look like it. Though it's unseasonably sunny outside, the fruits of summer are long since gone, leaving fresh food a little lacking in luster. Crops like lettuce, greens, squash, and potatoes do best in the fall, leaving melons, berries, and pitted fruits for the summer months. That doesn't mean fresh produce has to be boiled or baked in order to be enjoyed. Winter leaves us with some wonderful and refreshing options that give us a taste of summer. This salad, which features red leaf lettuce, pears, and a pomegranate dressing is a delightful departure from the gloom and doom of another potato-based hot soup.
What you'll need
In order to make the salad you will need:
- 1 head red leaf lettuce
- 1 ripe pear
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1 large pomegranate
- 1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- lime juice
- a blender or juicer
- a very fine strainer
One large pomegranate
If you're at the store shopping for pomegranates anyway, it may be worth it to buy the already peeled arils. Peeling arils is said to be easiest when the fruit is submerged in a bucket of water. Regardless, you will need to shuck the fruit without destroying the arils before salad enjoyment can commence. For other tips on this process, check out this recipe for pomegranate cheesecake, or 5 ways to enjoy a pomegranate.
The salad base
Slice or tear the red leaf lettuce. Red leaf is delicate, so don't slice ahead of time. The same goes for the pear. Choose a ripe pear; the softer and more delicate, the more delicious. Slice the pear and artfully arrange it on the bed of lettuce.
Garnish the salad
Sprinkle whole arils, sliced almonds, and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese on top of the salad base. The red arils should really pop, and their flavor will pop too as the juicy pockets burst in your mouth.
The dressing base
The base of the salad dressing is pomegranate juice. Use any arils that look wilted or were damaged during shucking to make the juice. If you have a juicer this should be a simple matter. If you have only a blender put the arils in with a splash of water and pulse for merely 10 seconds. Place a fine strainer in a larger bowl and pour the mixture through the strainer. Press down on the pulp with a flexible spatula to get the last of the juice. Discard the pulp.
Pomegranate juice was originally used as a powerful dye. The vibrant red color adds a lot to the monotony of earth tones in winter months. Pomegranate juice is a natural antioxidant and is excellent for improving blood flow in the body. (That's really no surprise, considering the color.) To this juice add a dash of black pepper, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a splash of lime juice, and a teaspoon of honey. Mix with a whisk. Taste first and make sure it has what you want. If it's too much mustard, add more honey or lime. After all, the flavor is dependent on how much juice you ended up with.
Summer in winter
The final salad plus dressing is very colorful, very flavorful, and very fresh, without fruits or veggies out of season. Enjoy immediately, as it is both delicate and delectable. Store extra dressing for another salad; it will keep for a few weeks in a closed mason jar in the fridge. If there's any left.