the perfect salad
I know! I know! A salad....really?? I will be the first to say that salads are not the most exciting thing to look forward to sometimes BUT the RIGHT salad makes all the difference! Stay with me here guys. Main dishes are super important but when you have a salad served along side it that is so colorful, fresh and packs flavors, it can steal the show. Seriously.
I had TWO small Halloween parties this past weekend. Why? Because Chicago has added more restrictions due to the increase in Covid cases so all indoor gatherings were restricted to 6 people or less. Instead of having to cut out people, I decided to split it into two events. More work? Absolutely. However, I had a menu in mind that was super versatile for both events and most of it could be made well in advanced! The one thing that I definitely wanted to include with the meal was this salad. I wanted to make pretty decadent individual pot pies for the dinner. Pairing it with something light and citrusy made sense to lighten up the whole meal. Now while the pot pie was absolutely delicious - I could have ate the ENTIRE bowl of this salad on it's own. It was that good!
So what is the trick to making a salad a show stopper? Make it a really good one with lots of yummy components! Just throwing a lettuce mix and some dressing in it won't make people excited. Take some time and make it special.
Doesn't that look super delicious? Pair it with a super simple and light homemade dressing, and you have a phenomenal start to any meal! Plus it really makes the dinner plate pop.
Aren't the pot pies adorable? If you look closely, you can see a little pumpkin face on it! I will devote an entire post with a recipe for that soon! Until then though, you should definitely try out this salad recipe while you can still find pomegranates!
Mandarin & Pomegranate Salad
5oz mixed greens
2 cups mandarin oranges (approx. 6)
3/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Dressing 4 Tbsp juice from 1 large orange
1 tsp orange zest, finely grated
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
First make the candied almonds. This takes the salad to the show stopping stage! Don't skip this step but if you are in a hurry, you can get honey roasted sliced almonds at the grocery store. But this is so worth doing and doesn't take long at all! Place the sliced almonds and sugar in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir constantly. In about 3 minutes, the sugar will begin to melt and liquify. Watch carefully and stir constantly to avoid burning the nuts. Remove the skillet from the heat once the sugar has liqufied and continue to stir until almonds are well coated. Spread onto a sheet of parchment paper and let cool. Once hardened, break apart and set aside. This will make more than you will need but it works better in this quantity. I keep the extras in a ziplock bag and use it for future salads, an oatmeal topper, a great addition to a charcuterie board or just as a snack!
Next make the dressing. In a blender or food processor, combine all of the dressing ingredients and blend. Transfer dressing to a glass jar and store in the fridge until ready to dress the salad. Make sure to shake the dressing well before dressing the salad.
Lastly, assemble the salad. Fill a large bowl or salad platter with the mixed greens. Top with peeled and segmented clementines. Add seeded pomegranate arils (which you can buy already seeded at the supermarket). Right before serving, toss it with the dressing, almonds, and feta cheese. Store any leftover dressing in the fridge.
So so sooooo good! It has all the components - citrusy, sweet and tangy. I dare anyone to call this salad boring! Try it sometime and let me know what you think. As always, if you end up making this, tag me on Instagram at @themonskerlife...I would LOVE to see!