This one’s been evolving for a while now, but it’s definitely become my “go-to” fall salad.
Although I’m forever trying and creating new recipes (sometimes great successes, sometimes not so much), I love having one or two “standbys”; seasonal recipes that are winners I can serve with great confidence.
I tried lots of variations before settling on this wonderful combination as my new “standby” and it’s quickly become a favorite here at The Café. That’s why I’m sharing it with you, I figured you too, could use a super fresh, super versatile and super delicious salad. It’s perfect to add a bit of pizzaz to family dinners, amazing for work or school lunches and will be a real show stopper at your next dinner party.
We’ve also enjoyed this Arugula, Pomegranate and Pear Salad as a main course, with rotisserie chicken. And it would pair quite nicely with shrimp, grilled steaks or roasted pork. The main cast of characters include peppery arugula, sweet sliced pears, juicy red grapes, creamy goat cheese and a scatter of ruby red pomegranate arils.
But do you want to know what makes this salad shine? There are actually three delicious components that take it out of the realm of ordinary. Are you ready for “the stars”?
Pickled Red Onions. If you haven’t tried these guys yet, you won’t believe what you’ve been missing. They only take a few minutes to throw together and last for several weeks in the fridge. They’re wonderful for adding a gourmet touch to sandwiches, wraps, tacos, burritos, burgers. Oh, and there’s a magical color metamorphosis that occurs almost as soon as the sliced onions are placed in the flavorful brine, taking them from plain-Jane-everyday to rose-hued ribbons of deliciousness. Scatter a few on top of a salad and you’ve just transformed simple greens into a work of art!
Sweet and Spicy Maple Pecans. These are amazing. And addictively delicious. Oven roasted with real maple syrup, fall spices and a touch of chili powder, they add crunch and sweet-salty-spiciness to yogurt, oatmeal and other breakfast cereals. They also make a fabulous snack, ice cream topping or pre-dinner nibble. Scattered on top of this Arugula, Pomegranate and Pear Salad, they’re not only pretty as a picture, but add another layer of fabulous flavor and texture.
Poppy Seed Cider Dressing. The salad’s crowning glory, (or if you’re French, crème de la crème!). Apple cider is simmered till it’s reduced to a thick, sticky syrup that’s, literally, bursting with vibrant apple flavor. The syrup is then combined with a splash of apple cider vinegar, a touch of Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil and a spoonful of poppy seeds. Everything goes in a jar and then – shake, shake, shake for a flavorful fall dressing that’s the perfect complement and conclusion to this yummy salad.
These three shining stars can all be made ahead, so it’s really easy to throw this salad together at the spur of the moment. I usually double the dressing recipe and keep jars of the wonderful pecans in the freezer. When I use the last of the Pickled Red Onions, it doesn’t take long before a new batch is on its way.
Like I said, this has become my go-to salad and I’m sure that once you try it, you’ll find yourself craving it again and again as well!
P.S. Have you noticed that pomegranates are starting to show up in the markets. Lots of my local stores are starting to have specials on them. This salad includes the gorgeous ruby red pomegranate arils (or seeds).
Do you avoid pomegranates because they’re a pain to de-seed? Are you intimidated by them? I used to be until I discovered this super easy No Fuss, No Mess, No Water technique. Now they grace my table quite frequently this time of year. And it takes less than a minute to go from the whole fruit to a jarful of the lovely seeds!
- 4-5 cups arugula
- 1 medium red pear seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 cup red grapes sliced
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
- ½ cup Pickled Red Onions
- ½ cup pomegranate arils or seeds
- ½ cup Sweet and Spicy Maple Pecans
- Poppy Seed Cider Dressing
- 1 cup apple cider
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- Combine all salad ingredients except the pecans in a large serving bowl or arrange on individual serving plates. Drizzle with the Cider-Poppy Seed Dressing. Scatter the pecans over the top. Serve immediately.
- For the dressing, place apple cider in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a steady simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until cider is reduced to 1/4 cup. Cool.
- When cider reduction has cooled, transfer it to a medium size glass jar. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and cover the jar with a secure lid. Shake vigorously till well combined. Store in the refrigerator. Keeps well for 1-2 weeks.