Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (2024)

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ByCheryl Avrich Updated on

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I love this simple winter salad recipe. It’s festive, the flavors are addictive, it’s got lots of texture and a fabulous citrus sweet and tangy dressing.

Ready in 15 minutes or, with shortcuts, 5 minutes! So add this pretty salad to your holiday menu and make it as simple or as complex as you like.

Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (1)

What to expect

The salad can, of course, be served at any time of year, but with the beautiful colors, it’s the perfect Christmas salad recipe during the holiday season or winter months. You see the red, green and white, right?

The festive salad is light and refreshing – and a great way to brighten up your holiday table. Build your own delicious salads in minutes with endless variations.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (2)

Here are the key ingredients I use for this holiday salad, focusing on the red, green and white. I also like to add contrasting textures like crunchy nuts and creamy cheese for example.

  • GREEN: winter greens or any green salad
  • RED: pomegranate seeds
  • WHITE: juicy pears and ricotta

The vinaigrette dressing is just the right blend of sweet, citrus and tang. More on the sweet side I’d say, so feel free to find the balance you like. It includes orange, maple syrup, Dijon, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

Variations and substitutions

  • Lettuce: Feel free to mix it up with lots of green contrasts.
    • Crisp greens: ‘little gem lettuce’ (a cross between romaine and butter/Boston), romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce.
    • Soft lettuce greens: Boston/Bibb lettuce, peppery arugula, frisée or other leafy greens
    • Deep greens: kale salad, baby spinach
    • Other greens: shredded brussels sprouts, cabbage, snap peas or creamy avocado.
  • Pomegranate: If you can’t find one, try slivers of roasted beets, chopped red peppers, red onion or dried cranberries for the red contrasts.
  • Nuts and seeds: Any toasted chopped nuts are fine – pecans, macadamia, walnuts, almonds, pistachios. Or try candied nuts, sesame seeds or sunflower seeds from your local bulk food store.
  • Cheese: I like mild creamy white ricotta as a blank slate for the vinaigrette. Other good choices are blue cheese, feta cheese and creamy goat cheese.
  • Vegetables/Fruits: Add or substitute with mandarin oranges or other citrus fruit, roasted butternut squash cubes, chopped apple, jicama or chopped water chestnuts.
  • Salad Dressing:
    • Add finely chopped green onion, tarragon, chives or garlic if you like.
    • Replace the orange zest with lemon zest or lime juice.
    • Alternative dressings: honey-lemon salad dressing, honey-mustard, poppy-seed, pomegranate vinaigrette and champagne vinaigrette.

Step-by-step instructions

Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (3)
Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (4)
Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (5)
Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (6)

Creative Serving Suggestions

Instead of the usual side salad, try one of these alternatives.

  1. Try it as an appetizer for holiday parties with little Gem lettuce leaves as lettuce cups. Fill them with nuts, ricotta, pomegranate seeds and julienned pear, then drizzle on some citrus vinaigrette. Winter salad cups – delish! This takes more prep time. Or ask your guests to make their own.
  2. Design the salad in the shape of a wreath on a circular platter. Serve the dressing in a small bowl in the center of the wreath.
Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (7)

FAQ about pomegranates

What are pomegranate seeds?

Pomegranates have white seeds covered in a sweet-tart, bright red nectar called arils. They burst with flavor and make a gorgeous garnish for the best winter salad recipes. And they are highly nutritious. The darker and deeper the color, the sweeter the seeds.

What is the best way for seeding a pomegranate?

Extracting the seeds is a bit messy, but it’s fairly simple. There are a couple of ways to do it. Cut the pomegranate in half. Taking the first half, hold the pomegranate seed side down over a bowl. Smack the outside with a wooden spoon (hard!) to release the seeds. Repeat with the other half. Here’s a Jamie Oliver video for how to extract pomegranate seeds. Alternatively, try this other option fromCooks Illustrated where you release the seeds into cold water.

How many pomegranate arils do you get from one pomegranate?

You will get about 1 to 1 1/4 cups (175 – 220 grams) or a bit more from one Pomegranate.

Where can I buy pomegranate seeds?

You can skip the process of extracting the pomegranate seeds and buy them in little containers at the grocery store. Many mainstream groceries and Costco now carry them. They keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Shortcuts

If you use all the following shortcuts, this winter salad recipe will take about 5 minutes to prepare! I’m always happy to use shortcuts with good quality, simple ingredients.

  • Buy pomegranate seeds.
  • Get pre-washed romaine lettuce or other tender greens
  • Buy pre-roasted nuts. Crush them with the back of a small pan.
  • Use a good store-bought vinaigrette and add a dash of pure maple syrup or honey and some orange zest if you like.

Make Ahead

The dressing can be made several days ahead. You can also roast the nuts ahead and store them in an airtight container when cooled to keep them fresh. And, extract the pomegranate seeds up to 4 days ahead. Cut the pears and assemble the salad just before serving.

Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (8)

More holiday salad recipes

  • fig and pomegranate salad
  • citrus salad
  • broccoli apple salad
  • beet and orange salad
  • kale salad with hazelnuts and charred onions

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks very much!

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Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes)

I love this winter salad recipe. It's festive, the flavors are addictive, it's got lots of texture and a fabulous citrus sweet and tangy dressing. Ready in 15 minute start-to-finish. Or, with shortcuts, only 5 minutes!

Total Time15 minutes mins

Course: Salad, starter

Cuisine: American

Diet: Vegetarian

Servings: 4

Author: Cheryl Avrich

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces romaine lettuce or other greens, Note 1, washed and dried well.
  • 1 cup Pomegranate seeds, Note 2 to extract seeds. Note 3 to store. (1 pomegranate)
  • 1 pear, julienned (cut into thin strips)
  • 1/3 cup roasted nuts Note 4
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, Optional (or use goat cheese or feta instead)

Vinaigrette Dressing ingredients, Note 5

  • 1/2 orange, juice and zest (2 tbsp juice, 1 tsp zest)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

US MeasuresMetric

Instructions

  • ROAST NUTS. Note 3

  • MAKE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING: Combine all ingredients in a jar or sealed container. Shake well until smooth and emulsified. Alternatively, whisk all ingredients together except oil. Slowly add a stream of oil while whisking until smooth.

  • ASSEMBLE WINTER SALAD: Cut or rip greens into small pieces and add them to a large bowl. Drizzle on dressing – you won't need it all. Scatter nuts, pears and pomegranate seeds evenly over lettuce. Add small little clumps of ricotta if desired (e.g. 1 teaspoon in size). Serve immediately. If forming into a wreath on a platter, you can serve the dressing in a small bowl in the center of the wreath.

Recipe Notes

  1. Lettuce substitutes: Feel free to mix it up with lots of green contrasts.
    • Crisp greens: ‘little gem lettuce’ (a cross between romaine and butter/Boston), romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce.
    • Soft lettuce greens: Boston/Bibb lettuce, arugula, frisée or other leafy greens
    • Deep greens: kale salad, baby kale, baby spinach
    • Other greens: shredded brussels sprouts, cabbage, snap peas or creamy avocado.
  2. How to extract pomegranate seeds from pomegranate: Roll pomegranate on counter to loosen seeds. Cut pomegranate in half. Taking the first half, hold pomegranate seed side down over a bowl. Smack the outside with a wooden spoon (hard!) to release the seeds. Repeat with the other half. Here’s a video on extracting seeds. Alternatively, try this other option fromCooks Illustrated. You will get about 1 to 1 1/4 cups (120-140 grams) or a bit more from 1 Pomegranate.
  3. To store or freeze pomegranate seeds: Seeds can be extracted 4-5 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or zippered bag. They can also be frozen by laying them on a parchment lined pan, freezing them for an hour, then transferring them to a sealed container or bag.
  4. Nut options and how to toast them: Use pecans, macadamia, walnuts, almonds or pistachios. Heat oven or toaster oven to 375F/190C. Lay nuts on pan in a single layer and roast for about 5-6 minutes until fragrant. Cool.
  5. Salad dressing variations
    • Add finely chopped green onion, tarragon, chives, garlic.
    • Replace orange zest with lemon zest or lime juice.
    • Alternative dressings: honey-mustard, poppy-seed, pomegranate vinaigrette and champagne vinaigrette.
  6. Shortcuts: To cut the time, try one or more of these shortcuts: buy pomegranate seeds (they sell them at Costco); buy pre-washed greens; buy pre-roasted nuts; use a store-bought vinaigrette and add a dash of pure maple syrup or honey and some orange zest if you like.
  7. Other variations and substitutes:
    • Pomegranate: Substitute slivers of roasted beets, chopped red pepper, red onion or dried cranberries.
    • Cheese: Instead of ricotta, try feta or goat cheese. Or leave out the cheese for a vegan salad.
    • Vegetables/Fruits options: mandarin oranges or other citrus fruit, roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash cubes, chopped apple, jicama or chopped water chestnuts.
  8. Make Ahead: The dressing can be made several days ahead. You can also roast the nuts ahead and store them in a sealed container when cooled to keep fresh. And, extract the pomegranate seeds up to 4 days ahead. Cut the pears and assemble the salad just before serving.

Nutrition values are estimates using the ingredients in the recipe. They will alter with modifications.

Nutrition

Calories: 275kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 180mg | Potassium: 514mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 4469IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 1mg

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Festive Recipe for Winter Salad (15 Minutes) (2024)

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