Celebration Salad with Spiced Pecans & Pomegranate

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
  • Enjoy!

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.