This salad is playful on your palate and a delight to look at. I’ve tried to incorporate as many Christmas flavors as possible, which has resulted in a salad that is very easy to make, but requires a few different bits and bobs which can all be assembled well ahead of time: deseeding the pomegranate, caramelizing the nuts, cooking the beets, and making the vinaigrette. When it’s time to plate, this comes together in minutes. Serves 4 as a meal or 8 as a side dish.
Ingredients – Salad
- 4 small beets, topped and tailed
- ½ cup walnuts or pecans
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- 1 pomegranate, deseeded *
- ⅓ cup radicchio, finely sliced
- 1 box arugula
*My favorite way to get the pomegranate seeds out of their insulated capsules is the following: roll the pomegranate around while applying gentle pressure against it. You’ll hear the seeds start to crunch, which means that they’re loosening from their hold. Cut the pomegranate in two and hold one half in your hand over a bowl cut-side down with your fingers apart. Take a heavy wooden spoon and bring it down with moderate force over the pomegranate until the seeds fly into the bowl.
Instructions – Salad
Beets : Bring a small pot of water to the boil, add your beets and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. You want to be able to stick a knife in your beets with ease. It’s important that the beets still maintain their crunch, so try not to overcook them. Drain the beets (we like to keep the water for our plants), and, once cooled, peel and either spiralize or cut in half and slice thinly.
Nuts : Place your nuts in a small pan over medium heat (don’t be tempted to raise the heat any higher or the nuts will burn) and toast for 10 minutes. It will be hard to see a significant color change, so set a timer, and taste one at the 10 minute mark. It should be crunchy and, if you look closer, more colored than it was before. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and then the cayenne. Stir well until the nuts have absorbed the sweet and spicy goodness. Turn onto a plate, and place in the fridge to cool and harden. Around 30 minutes.
Ingredients – Dressing
- 2 cups frozen cranberries**
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 orange, juice (around ¼ cup)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt (lots) & pepper
**Or ¼ of cranberry juice. If it’s sweetened, omit the maple syrup and add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. If it’s unsweetened, use ¼ cup of juice and proceed with the recipe.
Instructions – Dressing
Place the cranberries in a small pan. Cook, covered, over medium heat until the cranberries burst and release their juice. Immediately strain the cranberries, pushing the berries to ensure that as much juice as possible is released. It’s important to strain the berries right away, since, if left to cool, the pectin in the cranberries will thicken the mixture. You should have ¼ cup of cranberry liquid. Don’t throw out the thick berry mixture. You can combine it with some maple syrup and eat as a warm compote with yogurt or in oatmeal.
Combine the cranberry liquid with the maple syrup, orange juice, olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Instructions – Assembly
On a large plate, place the arugula, radicchio, pomegranates, caramelized nuts, and beets. Dress right before serving.