I am not a winter person at all.
In fact, it’s usually around this time of year that I threaten moving to a sunny tropical island surrounded by clear blue water and margaritas (lucky you, if you live there). I’m always freezing to the bone, and I absolutely dreeeaaaaad schlepping around in puffy winter gear. Flip flops and tank tops are more my speed- the kids too. Well actually, they prefer no clothes if you want to be exact.
T’is the season people.
Thankfully, we have holiday parties and cocktails to celebrate this otherwise gloomy time of year. In particular, it is this salad, a version of something I had at a Christmas party that hits all the right notes. It features crisp winter produce like watercress, endives and pomegranates. In between bites you’ll also find sweet, glazed pecans which you’re going to want to eat by the handful. And because blue cheese and endives are synonymous for me (my mom used to make salads this way), I’ve added thin slices of piquant goodness to the mix.
Have your party hats on yet?
The hostess served this salad with a spice-glazed ham. I was so smitten by the combo, I made a mental note to recreate this feast at home. Not only was it a stunning array of colors, it was the cool, refreshing crunch against the aromatic roast that got me hooked. No matter how you serve it, I think this is the perfect salad for any holiday celebration. It’s a little bit bitter and a little bit sweet- just like winter. Aren’t pomegranates supposed to bring good luck in the new year too?
Maybe you’ll win the lottery…
Now that’s my kind of celebration ;)
- The best way to remove the seeds from a pomegranate is to slice it in half and gently tap the back of each shell with a wooden spoon. Do this over a large bowl to catch all of the seeds and juice (and don’t wear white!) Alternatively, you can purchase pre-shelled pomegranate seeds.
- The glazed pecans and vinaigrette can be made ahead of time, up to 1 week in advance. Store (separately) in an air-tight container until ready to use.
- The vinaigrette is made with white balsamic vinegar for its soft, sweet flavor and to preserve the light color of the salad. You can substitute with red wine vinegar as well.
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 c. pecans
- coarse salt
- ¼ white balsamic vinegar*
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ c. olive oil
- 1 bunch watercress, trimmed
- 3 endives (white & red) cut into ½'' slices
- ½ c. pomegranate seeds
- ⅓ c. thinly sliced blue cheese
- salt & pepper
- For the pecans: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper. In a large non-stick skillet, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble. Add the pecans and cook until well coated, 2-3 minutes. Spread the nuts onto the prepared tray, and bake in the oven for about 6-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Cool completely.
- For the vinaigrette: Add the vinegar, honey and Dijon mustard to a small bowl. Whisk well to combine. Slowly add the olive oil, and continue whisking until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
- For the salad: Trim away about ¾'s of the watercress stems; you should have mostly leaves remaining. Strip away any additional leaves from large steams and add to the salad.
- Add the watercress and endives to a large salad bowl.
- Add the pomegranate seeds.*See notes below.
- Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the salad and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to combine.
- Top with blue cheese slices.
- Serve immediately with extra vinaigrette on the side.