Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pear, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad

It seems that January is the month of eating well and detox, at least according to my friends and a bunch of food publications.  I guess after all the sweets and booze of December’s holiday parties, we feel the need to negate the damage with healthy foods, and salad is usually the first thing that comes to mind.

I’m not necessarily trying to eat better this month; I just like a good salad every now and then.  I first made this one a few months ago when I was still completely entranced by the flavors of Turkish food.  Pistachios are ubiquitous in Turkish desserts but also show up in savory dishes; the ones grown there are an incredibly bright shade of green and taste far more intense than the California variety.  Pomegranates are also another staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and the molasses often makes an appearance in savory dishes.  The pairing of the two is natural, and using both of them as ingredients in the dressing as well as the salad gives the dish depth.  The addition of tangy blue cheese, sweet and crisp pears, and lightly peppery baby arugula makes for a final product that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

This salad is incredibly simple to put together but does require some advance planning to make the pistachio oil, which is critical to the flavor of the salad.  If you don’t make it in advance, you can make a shortcut version which isn’t quite as flavorful, but will still be infinitely better than even a good extra virgin olive oil.


Pear, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad
serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side
vegan if not using cheese; gluten-free

For the pistachio oil
¼ cup pistachios
1/3 cup olive oil

For the salad
3 tablespoons pistachio oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground green pepper (if unavailable, use black pepper)
1 large D’Anjou pear
2 cups mixed baby greens
4 cups baby arugula
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 ounce blue cheese (I like Point Reyes), crumbled (optional)


Pistachio oil*
Lightly toast the pistachios either by placing in a single layer on a plate and heating on high power for 2 minutes in a microwave oven or by toasting in a skillet set over low heat.  Let the pistachios cool and then finely grind them.  Transfer the ground pistachios to a small jar.  Heat the oil in a small pot until just shimmering.  Pour the oil over the ground pistachios and stir well.  Cover the jar and let sit overnight.  The next day, strain through cheesecloth (or a damp paper towel) into clean small bowl and set aside.  The oil can be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
*Shortcut method: Let the oil and ground nuts sit for a half hour, then gently pour off the oil.  It’s ok if you pour off some of the ground pistachios.

Make the dressing by whisking together the pistachio oil, pomegranate molasses, salt, and pepper.  Set aside.  Cut the pear in half, remove the core, and cut each half into large chunks (about 1”).

Add the cut pears, greens, arugula, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and cheese to a large bowl.  Add the dressing and toss well to combine.  Serve immediately.


Meghan said...

Mmmm... this looks really good.

strawberriesinparis said...

Yeah I love that combination of fruits in a salad!

Divya Vikram said...

Nice tangy salad. First time here. You have many great recipes.

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