Super simple, highly adaptable and festively colored, this spinach pomegranate salad makes a great side or appetizer. It takes no time to make, and you'll love the bright, fresh flavors.
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Lets face it, many traditional Holiday dishes are incredibly heavy and filling. Don’t get me wrong, I love turkey with all the trimmings, but it’s definitely not everyday food.
I know there’s many a household that either has a nap or goes for a bit of a walk after their Holiday meal to recover (or both!). However you can try to lighten things up a little by adding in the odd healthier and less heavy dishes to your meal, and this pomegranate spinach salad is perfect for that.
This salad is incredibly easy to make, so you’re not using lots of precious time. The simple flavors and colors are a great fits for this time of year, too. The salad itself has plenty crunch, while the dressing is a bright and light orange flavor.
How to pick and open a pomegranate
One of the things about pomegranates is you can't see the inside, so it can be hard to know by looking if you found a good one. However, there are a couple signs.
- First, the pomegranate should feel heavy for its size. This is a sign that the arils are nice and juicy.
- The sides should look slightly squared-off (as the one below). If it's very rounded, it is probably not as full with juicy seeds or as ripe.
- While traditional wisdom is that you want bright red, shiny skin, don't be put off by some blemishes on the skin. In many cases, if it meets the other two points, the arils will be a nice deep color if not perfect-looking on the outside.
There are a number of ways you can open and remove the arils from a pomegranate. Some open them in water to try to avoid the arils flying everywhere. Others cut them in then hit the skin with a spoon to help the arils fall out in your hand.
I suggest cutting around the crown/stem (the bit that sicks out) and pull that out. Then, you can either pull sections of the skin off or cut down the skin along the ribs (the 'corners' of the flattened sides).
This will open up the sections inside and let you pull off individual arils as well as larger chunks of the arils around pieces of white flesh that you can then peel the arils from. Some find it worth rolling the pomegranate before opening to help loosen the arils as well.
Ways to adapt this salad
You can easily adapt this basic salad recipe if you’d like more in there. For example, try adding:
- strawberries (to be a cross with my strawberry spinach feta salad) or some grapes;
- thin slices of pear or apple;
- shaved Brussels sprouts or some additional greens;
- candied pecans (as I used in my pear gorgonzola salad) or sliced almonds;
- some crunchy pepitas or other seeds.
It's fun to play around with, though I do suggest you keep it relatively simple.
Despite just a small list of ingredients, this spinach pomegranate salad has so much going for it. It’s got crunch, a little sweetness and don’t forget those bites of pomegranate popping on your tongue. It’s light, fresh and adaptable - in other words perfect for entertaining or on your festive table.
Looking for more seasonal salads? Try these!
- Beet and blood orange salad
- Winter fattoush salad
- Vegan lentil salad with roasted Brussels sprouts
- Roasted golden beet salad
- Roasted kabocha squash salad with feta
- Plus get more inspiration for side dishes and winter recipes in the archives.
Spinach pomegranate salad
- 3 cups baby spinach lightly packed, approx 60g/2oz (2 large handfuls)
- 4 oz fennel 115g, 1 small-medium bulb (approx 1 ½ cups once shaved)
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils 4 tbsp
- ¼ cup orange juice 60ml
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or use white balsamic/cider vinegar for lighter color)
- 1 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup)
- ¼ teaspoon salt approx - a couple pinches
- Remove any tough outer layer from the fennel and chop off the end. Cut in thin shave-like slices and separate out the slices, removing any tough core as you go.
- Toss the spinach leaves and shaved fennel together in one or more bowls then add the pomegranate on top.
- Put all of the dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake to mix then pour over the salad (you may not need all of it) and serve.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Try these other holiday side dish ideas:
- Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin from Our Good Life
- Cranberry Ambrosia Salad from Daily Dish Recipes
- Mashed Potato Casserole from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Salad from Palatable Pastime
- Tangerine Beet Goat Cheese Salad from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
- Vegan Green Bean Casserole from The Baking Fairy
This post was first published in November 2018 and has been updated, primarily with new photos and added video.