This festive salad features spiced pecans, chopped dates, pomegranate seeds, and a special balsamic vinaigrette. The extra time it takes to toss this special salad is totally worth it. It’s fruity, delicious, and…. makes leftovers you can feel good about. I sautéed an apple and had a warm healthy salad that felt as good as it tasted after last night’s over-indulgence! The whole process takes about 40 minutes – but there’s a lot you can do ahead of time if you pre-plan.
Start with your choice of a green salad base. I like to mix classic leafy greens with a baby greens field mix of spinach, kale, and red leaf lettuce.
Prepare the Spiced Pecans*
- Prepare a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper to cure your pecans after they are prepared.
- Toast 2 cups of pecans in a cast iron skillet – watch carefully and stir often so they don’t burn. Cook over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes until they smell toasted.
- In a small bowl, prepare the spice mixture:
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- dash cayenne pepper (use up to 1/2 tsp. if you like a lot of heat)
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Coat the pecans: add 4 Tb. unsalted butter to the pan of pecans. (Use an oil instead if you are making this vegan.)
- After the pecans are coated with melted butter (or oil), add your spice mixture
- Add brown sugar + 1 Tb. water to your pan — (I used about 2/3 cup brown sugar per the directions – but will likely try to reduce this next time just for the health factor)
- Cook and stir for about 3 more minutes until pecans are thickly coated
- Transfer nuts to sheetpan and separate them to air about. Mine stayed sticky in the salad – no problem!
- Original recipe says they can be stored in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.
Flip-out the Pomegranate Seeds
- Fill a medium-sized bowl with water
- Slice 1 Pomegranate in half
- Dunk 1 half into the bowl of water and then flip it inside out. This will make it easier to slide the seeds out without getting messy.
- Let the seeds sink to the bottom. The little bits of pith will float to the top – making it much easier to get the seeds out clean.
Combine the Fix-ins
- Mix together your green salad base, spiced pecans, pomegranate seeds, and add 10 chopped dates.
Fig & Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrette (any balsamic vinaigrette will be fine)
These special ingredients are worth having just for this salad. Actually I use the Walnut Oil for my muffins because of it’s health benefits. (Learn more here.)
Combine following ingredients in a glass container and mix well:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup walnut oil
- 1/4 cup Fig Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tsp. salt
- Juice of two tangerines / or 1 orange
- Dash of honey (skip – or use another sweeter for vegan)
Dress your salad with vinaigrette just before serving to keep the greens crisp. Enjoy!
Holiday Breakfast Salad
I knew better and saved a serving or two of the pecan, pomegranate, and date mixture. There were no leftovers. For a sweet and savory breakfast salad:
- Salute one apple with a little walnut oil.
- Mix with fruit & nut mixture
- Toss with just a touch of green salad
Wishing you a happy & healthy holiday season, Kate
* The spiced pecan recipe was based on a recipe from Alton Brown. He also included some dried orange zest which I’m sure is a a great complement.