Bid goodbye to the boring side salad with this bowl of crisp, baby spinach, juicy pear slices, sweet pomegranate seeds, and tangy goat cheese. Paired with a homemade, paleo apple cider vinaigrette, this salad is a healthy feast of fresh and seasonal ingredients.
Nearly every afternoon, John and I enjoy a salad as our lunchtime meal. The kids will have a smaller bowl along with their main dishes. So, of course, I love coming up with creative ways to serve our greens. This salad definitely put smiles on the faces of everyone at the table.
Pomegranate seeds are a powerful superfood. They are loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals that protect heart and brain health. The red, jewel-like capsule (called an aril) that encloses the pomegranate seed provides vitamins B6, C, and potassium. Not only do I love how nutritious these seeds are, but I also love how they explode with flavor in every forkful.
When choosing your pomegranate, you’ll know if it is ripe if it is heavy and the skin is firm. Remove the stem by inserting the tip of a paring knife on an angle into the core. Then rotate the knife and fruit in opposite directions until the stem is released. Score the sides from top to bottom about 1/4″ in and slowly pull apart. Then pry away the seeds from the peel and membranes in a bowl of water. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the water as the pulp and outer rind float to the top. Be careful, though, as pomegranate juice can stain. If you prefer not cutting up a pomegranate, you can also usually find ready-to-eat seeds in the refrigerated section of the supermarket produce section.
The next lovely ingredients are the baby spinach and slices of ripe pear. I always choose organic spinach. For the pears, you can choose either Anjou pears or Bartlett for their pretty green color. I recommend cutting the pear just before you are ready to serve so the slices don’t discolor.
After tossing the spinach, pomegranate seeds, and pears together, I crumble goat cheese on top. If you are following a paleo diet, aged cheese is usually okay. See here.
John and I have begun following many of the principles of a paleo diet, not because some ancient people ate that way, but because we believe it is a more healthy way to eat. However, John and I try not to eat too much cheese (sometimes that’s really hard) because of the high carb content. When we do eat it, though, we usually eat a fairly well-aged gruyere, parmesan, or a goat cheese. Aged cheeses are supposed to have a lower lactose content than lesser aged varieties. Because goat’s milk is closer in comparison to human milk than that of a cow, some people with low tolerance to cow’s milk can tolerate goat’s milk. Read more about goat cheese here.
The cheese I used is a Chèvre from the Vermont Creamery. This is an absolutely wonderful cheese. They proudly state that their goats’ milk comes from high quality, sustainable, and environmentally sound farms. It really turns this salad into something special.
Finally, it’s time to make the vinaigrette! My apple cider vinaigrette is one hundred percent gluten free and one hundred percent nourishing to your body.
I use Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. Raw apple cider vinegar has a host of health benefits from improving digestion to alleviating heartburn to maintaining healthy skin. Despite its acidic taste, raw apple cider vinegar alkalizes the body, balancing your pH, to help you fight off disease and inflammation. I especially like Bragg’s because it contains the “mother” of the vinegar: strands of living proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria.
To soften the sharp taste of the apple cider vinegar, add extra virgin olive oil, garlic, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. I love the gluten free, organic Dijon mustard made by Annie’s Homegrown with its French country flavor and gourmet taste. Yum.
With the holidays approaching, life can get stressful if you are hosting the holidays in your home or organizing festivities. And with all of the pastries and sweets, it can be difficult keeping our diets healthy. This tasty salad will give you that much-needed energy boost and will also help supercharge your immune system in the winter months. And won’t it look festive on your holiday table? It’s a lovely balance of flavors from the fruity sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and pears, to the crunchy spinach, to the creamy goat cheese, to the zesty vinaigrette. Everyone will love it. And the best part is it’s all gluten free, paleo, and incredibly nutritious.
Have a happy and healthy week, friends!
- For Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tblsp. gluten free Annie's dijon mustard
- ¼ cup Bragg's apple cider vinegar
- 2 tblsps. lemon juice
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. white pepper
- For Pomegranate Spinach Salad:
- 8 cups organic baby spinach
- 1 ripe organic pear
- ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 ounces gluten free goat cheese
- For Apple Cider Vinaigrette: Combine all of the ingredients in a jar, cover and shake until well combined.
- For Pomegranate Spinach Salad: Add the spinach to your salad bowl. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds. Slice the pears just before you’re ready to serve so that they don’t discolor. Cut the pear into thin slices and toss. Finally, crumble the goat cheese on top of the salad and then drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.