Pomegranates have been making their appearance again, and they’re always a favorite in our house for fall/winter salads. It doesn’t matter what the season is, we love having a giant salad for dinner at least once a week. And since I’ve just used up the last of my garden tomatoes, (except for a few precious packages of fresh tomato sauce in the freezer) it’s onwards and upwards into all things fall.
Honeycrisp apples are another favorite for salads, and when their season is over Pink Lady apples are my next choice. Between the jewelled pomegranate arils, crispy sweet apples, savory red onion, and piquant feta cheese, the flavors of this salad will have you coming back for more.
Of course I couldn’t stop there, and I went ahead and added some grilled chicken along with some maple candied almonds. Tyler absolutely loves this salad, so it’s pretty much become the official salad of the season in our house.
Pomegranates are so good on salads and for snacking, but I know for many people it’s just too much work. I definitely used to feel the same way until I came upon the easiest method ever that makes short work of pomegranates.
The basic method goes like this:
Start by cutting the pomegranate in half, and then holding each half with the seed side down over a big bowl, take a wooden spoon and start whacking the pomegranate half. You’ll be completely amazed as the pomegranate arils simply fall out with very little debris to pick out. I can de-seed a whole pomegranate in just under a minute now. You can find my full tutorial, plus some pictures over on my Pomegranates 101.
I often make my 2-Ingredient Balsamic Vinaigrette for our salads, but this one is a variation that was an instant hit. I added a little minced garlic along with some crushed Herbs d’ Provence, and the resulting dressing was so flavorful that I’ve been making huge batches to have on hand. (As a side note, it keeps well for at least a week in the fridge.)
For the candied almonds, I like to toast them in a cast iron pan over low heat. Once the nuts are golden brown, I add a touch of sea salt and some maple syrup which immediately sizzles when it hits the pan creating a caramelized effect.
Tip: It’s important to remove the candied nuts from the pan and cool them in a glass or ceramic dish, because as the pan cools the candied nuts will stick.
We both love slivered red onion in our salads. But if raw onion isn’t your thing, you can always sub in thinly sliced green onion which is much milder in flavor.
I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we do, and be sure to let me know if there’s a recipe you’d like to see made with a healthy twist! I love getting requests, especially because it often requires me to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.
Tip: Look for a balsamic vinegar that doesn’t have any ‘natural flavors’ or caramel coloring in it because a pure balsamic vinegar will give you the best tasting and healthiest dressing.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ Teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ Teaspoon Herbs d' Provence
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 2
- sea salt to taste
- 8 cups washed baby spinach, 8 ounces
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 medium Honeycrisp apples, 1 pound
- 1 pomegranate, de-seeded yielding 1½ cups
- ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese, 3 ounces
- 1 cup sliced almonds, 4 ounces
- 1½ Tablespoons maple syrup
- sea salt to taste, I used ½ teaspoon
- Preheat a grill over high heat.
- While the grill heats, make the dressing by adding the balsamic vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, sea salt, and pepper to a mason jar. Crush the Herbs d' Provence in your hand before adding them to the jar as well along with the garlic and olive oil. Secure a lid tightly on the jar and shake until the dressing emulsifies. Set the dressing aside to let the flavors develop.
- When the grill reaches 400º-450ºF, place the chicken breasts on the grill, and immediately lower the heat to medium high. Grill for 8-10 minutes per side, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, but still juicy. Once the chicken is done, remove it from the grill to cool slightly before cutting it into bite sized pieces.
- While the chicken is grilling, place the spinach and sliced onions into a large serving bowl. Cut the apples into quarters and core them. Then thinly slice or cut them into small bite sized pieces. Add the apples along with the pomegranate arils and feta cheese to the salad bowl.
- To make the candied almonds, toast the sliced almonds over low heat in a 9" cast iron pan, shaking as they cook to make sure they toast evenly. When the almonds are golden, add the sea salt and maple syrup stirring vigorously to coat. When the maple syrup has been mixed in, remove the nuts from the pan to a glass or ceramic dish to cool.
- To finish the salad add the grilled chicken, candied almonds, and toss the salad with the balsamic dressing, or serve the dressing on the side.
- Serve immediately.
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