I feel quite lost.
I miss our simple tomato-cucumber salads of the summer. I grew up eating salads almost every night (my father was the salad and dressing maker), but they almost always had a little chopped tomato in them: cabbage salad with tomato, lettuce salad with tomato, cucumber, carrots, or a basic chopped tomato and cucumber salad.
When I first came to this country, I would still buy tomatoes year round because I just couldn't imagine my kitchen without fresh tomatoes. Those piles of tomatoes in the grocery store in December, January, February - I didn't realize how far they had traveled and how little they tasted like real fruit. I just bought them because I had never, ever, ever in my life lived in a house where there were no tomatoes.
A few years ago, I finally broke down and admitted: I am not in Palestine anymore.
I am in Northern Virginia. And here, the winter tomatoes are the worst.
Once I admitted that, I found I could stop buying them. I walked right past the display case of mealy tomatoes.
Is there still salad after tomato season? I was wandering in new territory here. I tried apples and pears, cucumber and feta, cabbage and spinach, bacon crumbles, walnuts, sourdough croutons. They were good, but they didn't taste quite like home.
A few weeks ago, I was pushing my cart through the grocery store, and my baby squealed with delight and said, "BALL." He was pointing at a pomegranate. That's not a ball, honey, I said. It's a pomegranate. He didn't believe me, and clutched it in the cart for the rest of the ride.
We brought the pomegranate home, and looked at it for a while, on the counter. It was so pretty, in a bowl with the baby oranges and the pears and apples, that it seemed a shame to break it open. I found a video tutorial by Martha Stewart on how to de-seed a pomegranate, and the older children and I followed her instructions and were soon rewarded with a beautiful mound of pomegranate seeds. (It's not a very elegant video - but it was fun to follow!).
For breakfast, I sliced up oranges and sprinkled them with pomegranate arils. The children picked up the pretty gems-like seeds, the baby ate them by the fistful, and my daughter studded the center of her orange rounds with the ruby red seeds.
And I suddenly saw my new winter salad: a bed of baby spinach leaves, sliced rounds of baby oranges, and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.
Oranges and spinach are a classic combination, but the tart little pomegranate seeds add crunch and a tart burst of juice into each bite. I drizzled a homemade citrus dressing, with a little Dijon mustard and pomegranate molasses stirred in, to complement the salad.
Unforeseen result: My salad is in the holiday spirit! Wouldn't this be lovely to bring to a Christmas party?