This salad with pears and pumpkin seeds is wintertime dish full of salad greens, sweet pears, and pomegranates. On top: caramelized pepitas.
This great wintertime salad is best prepared with pomegranates that appear only around the holidays. Tender pears and caramelized pumpkin seeds round out this seasonal delight. Vegans can leave out the cheese and enjoy the crunchy spiced seeds instead.–Robin Asbell
Salad with Pears and Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 large clove garlic peeled
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves (optional)
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice concentrate
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seed or olive oil
- 1 small pomegranate
- 1 large head Romaine lettuce washed and dried
- 2 small shallots thinly sliced
- 2 large Bosc pears sliced
- 4 ounces pecorino cheese sliced
- Heat the 1 teaspoon olive oil over high heat for 1 minute in a medium nonstick skillet. Add the pumpkin seeds and toss in the pan until the seeds are popping and browning, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the brown sugar, tossing continuously until seeds are coated with melted sugar (careful—it will burn easily). Quickly mix in chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and salt, then spread the mixture on a plate to cool. Let cool completely and store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week until ready to use.
- In a food processor, mince the garlic and mint (if using). Add the pomegranate juice concentrate, lemon juice, honey, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pulse to mix. With the machine running, gradually drizzle in pumpkin seed or olive oil. Set the dressing aside.
- Cut through the skin of the pomegranate from stem to tip, dividing the fruit in quarters. Hold it over a bowl and pull apart the sections, then tear apart the pieces, gently freeing the seeds. Slice across the Romaine leaves into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Arrange the greens on plates or in a large bowl. Top with the shallots, pears, and cheese. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This salad with pears and pumpkin seeds recipe started with a very large lettuce I found at a farmer’s market. It was easy to prepare because alI had to do was fry the pumpkin seeds and mix the dressing. Life is easier when you have packs of fresh pomegranate seeds, already cleaned and ready to eat (sold in every food store in Israel, where I live). I used all the ingredients suggested on the list: fresh mint, olive oil, and the pecorino cheese. When it’s all put together, it makes a nice salad, rich in color, with lots of different tastes. The vegetarians I served it to were very happy and asked to have it added to the “family list.”
A couple of helpful hints about pomegranates:
1. Be careful when you open them; they might color your hands and damage your clothes. Lemon juice will help to get rid of the stains.
2. Pomegranate season is very short, but you can keep them for months after you brush them with plain oil and put them in a paper bag in a refrigerator drawer.
3. To free the seeds easily, roll the fruit on a work surface, and then cut it in half. Hold it in one hand, and hit the top with a wooden spoon. Do it over a bowl to catch the falling seeds.
You can watch this video to see how it’s done.
This salad with pears and pumpkin seeds is a very simple and versatile salad. Adjustments to the dressing can be made to suit one’s taste without changing the overall flavor of the dressing. Pomegranate juice concentrate tends to be very sour, so you may need to increase the amount honey or decrease the amount of pomegranate juice. It’s also very important that the pomegranate itself be sweet, and of good quality. The nuts are absolutely delicious and add a lovely crunch and bite to the salad, while the cheese brought the whole dish together.
The second time I prepared the salad, I used an apple in place of pear, and it was good. I think any sweet apple or pear would go well with the cheese in this salad.
Originally published November 11, 2009