About this time last year I discovered a most-delicious salad, a Greg and Lucy Malouf creation, a mixture of green olives, walnuts and pomegranate seeds tossed in a spicy, sweet, salty dressing, a combination I find irresistible.
It’s light. It’s fresh. It’s just the sort of thing we all found ourselves craving about three hours after our Thanksgiving lunch when we found ourselves back in the kitchen, hungry once again, faced with so many delectable options, but scrounging for something else: something crisp, something raw, something juicy.
Sensing our urgency to get some sort of primary producer into our systems, my sister finally allowed us to tuck into her centerpiece, a plate of perfectly ripe persimmons, which we ate skin and all. Nothing has tasted so refreshing.
This salad here, while not quite as exotic as the Turquois salad described above, falls in the same vein, an amalgam of flavors and textures: sweet brussels sprouts, spicy jalapeños, crisp and tart pomegranate seeds, and crunchy toasted walnuts.
While nobody seemed to miss the presence of salad on the Thanksgiving table, I’m thinking a spot of color, a touch of freshness, something to balance the creamy potatoes and the buttery bird might be nice on the Christmas dinner table.
Have you all been eating your greens? What are your thoughts in regard to salad at big holiday gatherings? Superfluous or mandatory? Hope you all are staying warm.
Update: 12-17: After one of you directed me to this video, I updated my photos/seed extracting method: 1. Score the pomegranate with a sharp knife — you do not need to cut all the way through. 2. Use your fingers to gently pull back each side all the way around; then twist the pomegranate into two halves. 3. Hold the pomegranate cut side down in the palm of one hand. With the other hand, whack the back of it with a wooden spoon.
And, while the other video is quite informative, it’s also long, and if your attention span is anything like mine, you might not get to the whacking part. This is the basic idea:
Sooo, am I asking you to peel the sprouts once again? Yes, I am. I’m sorry. But they’re so good this way. And they look so pretty. Don’t let this step deter you. Tune into a podcast. Crank up the music. Before you know it, the sprouts will have peeled themselves.
Notes: To extract pomegranate seeds: 1. Score the pomegranate with a sharp knife — you do not need to cut all the way through. 2. Use your fingers to gently pull back each side all the way around; then twist the pomegranate into two halves. 3. Hold the pomegranate cut side down in the palm of one hand. With the other hand, whack the back of it with a wooden spoon.
- 1 cup walnuts
- 10 to 12 oz (283 to 340 g) Brussels sprouts (about 9 oz (255g) once trimmed of stems)
- kosher salt
- 1 pomegranate, seeded (see notes for guidance)
- 1 to 2 jalapenos, minced
- olive oil
- white balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Place walnuts on a sheet pan. Toast for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Remove from oven. Place in tea towel. Rub together to remove skins. Transfer walnuts to strainer and shake to remove excess skin. Coarsely chop and set aside.
- Meanwhile, peel the brussels sprouts: chop the ends off of each sprout cutting higher than you might normally. Pick leaves off of the stem ends, then discard the stem. Using a paring knife, core the sprout the way you would when removing the white part of the strawberry around the stem. Discard the core. With your fingers, gently pull the sprout in half removing the leaves as you go.
- Add a tablespoon of kosher salt to the pot of water. Add the sprouts to the water and cook for 45 seconds. Drain. Run under cold water. Spin dry.
- Place sprouts (drying off excess water with paper towels or a tea towel if necessary) in a large salad bowl. Add pomegranate seeds, one of the minced jalapenos, and the chopped wlanuts. Season with salt to taste. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar over top. Toss and taste, adding more olive oil and vinegar by the tablespoon if necessary. If it’s not spicy enough, add the additional jalapeño.
Another simple side dish: sautéed brussels sprout leaves (blanched first) with toasted bread crumbs: