Monday, December 7, 2015

Salad in Winter: Citrus Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Arils

The season of tomatoes is over.

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?

This pretty little salad, sweet-tart and simple was just the thing to remind me that winter can be delicious, too.  It is much better, I am learning, to cook with what is in season and delicious right here and now.  Sometimes, I can get lost in the missing pieces, stuck in what was and now isn't.  This little salad, simple as it is, tells me that there is still something good,  reminds me to look at the ground that I am standing on right now, and say that this, too, is good.

Citrus Spinach with Pomegranate Arils


6 cups raw spinach leaves
5 baby oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 cup pomegranate seeds

Arrange spinach leaves on a platter.  Layer orange slices and pomegranate seeds on top.


1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp pomegranate molasses (buy, make, or just substitute in honey)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients (or shake in a tight-lidded jar) and drizzle over the salad.

Merry Christmas!


  1. It looks lovely! I'm going to try it. Merry Christmas!

  2. It's officially on the menu for Christmas brunch! Can't wait to try this :D
    Merry Christmas! xo

    1. Christmas brunch sounds lovely. This would be perfect for a brunch salad! Happy to be a part of your celebration in some way. Merry Christmas, Shireen!!

  3. I love the fact that this whole thing came out through a eureka moment! Lovely bright colors.. it just lifts the mood by just seeing it.. sure if it is hit!

    1. It was a eureka moment, yes! The colors, the smell of cut oranges- it all makes me happy. Enjoy!


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