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THE CONFIDENT COOK

Recipe: Toss this colorful, crunchy, sweet, bitter, leafy winter salad with pomegranate dressing

Winter Salad with Quinoa and Pomegranate Dressing.
Winter Salad with Quinoa and Pomegranate Dressing.Sally Pasley Vargas

Serves 4

It may be winter, but salads still can be interesting. A really good mixture includes something leafy, something slightly bitter, something sweet and juicy, something crunchy, and something salty. This one, arranged on a platter so you can see the array, includes chicory, radicchio, endive, peppery arugula, crunchy fennel with a licorice bent, refreshing mint or Italian parsley, seedless red grapes, and tart pomegranate seeds. It's tossed with a pomegranate dressing to make a memorable and colorful salad. Toasted almonds and quinoa are extra perks. You can buy pomegranate arils (the juicy red nubbins) already removed from the fruit, but here's a neat trick to release them quickly yourself: Halve the fruit across the equator and hold a half with the cut side down over a big bowl. Then whack it with a heavy spoon. As you hit the outside of the fruit, the seeds will fall into the bowl. Pomegranate molasses, which goes into the dressing, is available at well-stocked markets and Middle Eastern grocers. To make it yourself, simmer 2 cups pomegranate juice with 2 tablespoons sugar and a squeeze of lemon until it's reduced by half and forms a thick syrup. It has many uses in the kitchen. Brush pomegranate molasses on meats or chicken to glaze them before roasting, drizzle it over roasted vegetables, or stir it into iced tea and other drinks. In place of it in the dressing, you can use honey mixed with lemon juice. This recipe is your winter salad blueprint. Swap out ingredients here for others that please you.

QUINOA

½cup red quinoa
1cup water
Pinch of salt

1. In a fine-meshed strainer, rinse the quinoa under cold water for 30 seconds. Drain well.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the quinoa forms tiny spirals and curls, and all the water is absorbed. To test it, use a spoon to dig down into the bottom of the pan to see if the water has evaporated. If not, cook for a few more minutes.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover with a lid, and let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork; cool.

DRESSING

1small shallot, finely chopped
2tablespoons sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
1tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1tablespoon pomegranate molasses or 2 teaspoons honey mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
6tablespoons olive oil

1. In a small bowl, whisk the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Whisk in the pomegranate molasses or honey mixture and olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, pomegranate molasses, honey, or lemon juice, if you like.

SALAD

¼cup sliced almonds
4handfuls mixed dark leafy greens, such as chicory, arugula, watercress, baby kale
1handful fresh mint leaves or Italian parsley leaves (or a combination)
1small bulb fresh fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1small head radicchio, torn into pieces
1small head endive, sliced
1cup seedless red grapes, halved
½ pomegranate, red arils removed (1/4 cup)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a small baking dish.

2. Spread the almonds in the dish. Toast them, turning several times, for 8 minutes, or until they start to brown; cool.

3. In a bowl large enough to hold all the greens and vegetables, combine the greens, mint or parsley leaves, fennel, radicchio, endive, and grapes. Toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the dressing, or more to taste. (You will not use all the dressing at this point.)

4. On a large platter or in 4 shallow bowls or plates, place the dressed greens and vegetables. Top with the quinoa and pomegranate arils. Sprinkle with more dressing and the almonds.

Sally Pasley Vargas

Serves 4

It may be winter, but salads still can be interesting. A really good mixture includes something leafy, something slightly bitter, something sweet and juicy, something crunchy, and something salty. This one, arranged on a platter so you can see the array, includes chicory, radicchio, endive, peppery arugula, crunchy fennel with a licorice bent, refreshing mint or Italian parsley, seedless red grapes, and tart pomegranate seeds. It's tossed with a pomegranate dressing to make a memorable and colorful salad. Toasted almonds and quinoa are extra perks. You can buy pomegranate arils (the juicy red nubbins) already removed from the fruit, but here's a neat trick to release them quickly yourself: Halve the fruit across the equator and hold a half with the cut side down over a big bowl. Then whack it with a heavy spoon. As you hit the outside of the fruit, the seeds will fall into the bowl. Pomegranate molasses, which goes into the dressing, is available at well-stocked markets and Middle Eastern grocers. To make it yourself, simmer 2 cups pomegranate juice with 2 tablespoons sugar and a squeeze of lemon until it's reduced by half and forms a thick syrup. It has many uses in the kitchen. Brush pomegranate molasses on meats or chicken to glaze them before roasting, drizzle it over roasted vegetables, or stir it into iced tea and other drinks. In place of it in the dressing, you can use honey mixed with lemon juice. This recipe is your winter salad blueprint. Swap out ingredients here for others that please you.

QUINOA

½cup red quinoa
1cup water
Pinch of salt

1. In a fine-meshed strainer, rinse the quinoa under cold water for 30 seconds. Drain well.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the quinoa forms tiny spirals and curls, and all the water is absorbed. To test it, use a spoon to dig down into the bottom of the pan to see if the water has evaporated. If not, cook for a few more minutes.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover with a lid, and let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork; cool.

DRESSING

1small shallot, finely chopped
2tablespoons sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
1tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1tablespoon pomegranate molasses or 2 teaspoons honey mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
6tablespoons olive oil

1. In a small bowl, whisk the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Whisk in the pomegranate molasses or honey mixture and olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, pomegranate molasses, honey, or lemon juice, if you like.

SALAD

¼cup sliced almonds
4handfuls mixed dark leafy greens, such as chicory, arugula, watercress, baby kale
1handful fresh mint leaves or Italian parsley leaves (or a combination)
1small bulb fresh fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1small head radicchio, torn into pieces
1small head endive, sliced
1cup seedless red grapes, halved
½ pomegranate, red arils removed (1/4 cup)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a small baking dish.

2. Spread the almonds in the dish. Toast them, turning several times, for 8 minutes, or until they start to brown; cool.

3. In a bowl large enough to hold all the greens and vegetables, combine the greens, mint or parsley leaves, fennel, radicchio, endive, and grapes. Toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the dressing, or more to taste. (You will not use all the dressing at this point.)

4. On a large platter or in 4 shallow bowls or plates, place the dressed greens and vegetables. Top with the quinoa and pomegranate arils. Sprinkle with more dressing and the almonds.Sally Pasley Vargas