Fall Apple Salad with Shallot Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Pomegranates can get a bit tricky when trying to remove the seeds without the juice flying all over the place. I have tried many methods but the underwater technique seems to reduce the mess best and most of the white pith does float to the top. I use a large bowl of water and slice the pomegranate in half under the water. By pulling apart the pomegranate halves under water and picking out the seeds, the juice is contained. Then it is just a simple matter of scooping out the floating pith then straining the water. One pomegranate produces a lot of seeds. The leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight plastic bag for several days.
This salad not only uses the seeds but pomegranate juice as well. Producing pomegranate juice from a pomegranate is not as easy as you might think so I buy the pomegranate juice already squeezed in the produce section. Many pomegranate vinaigrettes call for pomegranate molasses which is just a reduction with added sugar but I think is too sweet so here in this recipe, the pomegranate juice is just reduced without the sugar.
Seasoning the olive oil before vinaigrettes are made can make a big difference in flavor. There are many ways to accomplish this. Some techniques include just blending fresh herbs (like basil or chives) with the olive oil in a food processor, some strain this and some do not. Some call for hearty herbs (like rosemary) to be steeped in warmed olive oil for several hours. This recipe calls for frying shallots in the olive oil which gives it a rich fried shallot flavoring.
There are two sweet additions in this salad – the apples and the pomegranate seeds and there are two salty additions in this salad- the salted, toasted pecans and the fried shallots. These ingredients play off each other in a delightful combination of flavors that are pulled together with the shallot pomegranate vinaigrette.
Pomegranate Molasses or Syrup
½ cup of pomegranate juice
In a small saucepan, heat the pomegranate juice on medium heat until it is lightly bubbling. Reduce heat and simmer until it is reduce to 1/8 cup. Cool completely.
Shallot Olive Oil
3 T olive oil
1 lg. shallot, thinly sliced, skin removed, separated into rings
In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until lightly golden brown. Remove the crispy shallot rings and place on a paper towel lined plate. Cool the olive oil completely.
1/8 cup of pomegranate molasses or syrup
1 T red wine vinegar
1 t Dijon mustard
½ t mayonnaise
3 T shallot flavored olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
In a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid, add all the ingredients. Shake vigorously and set aside.
Fall Apple Salad
5 oz arugula
½ pomegranate seeds
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
½ cup pecan halves
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 recipe of pomegranate vinaigrette
fried shallot rings
Fresh black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a glass pie plate add the pecans, 1 t butter cut into small pieces and kosher salt to taste. Toast the pecans until lightly toasted. Remove from oven; stir to make sure that all pecan pieces have butter and salt on them. Cool completely.
In a medium size bowl, toss the arugula with ¾ of the vinaigrette until completely coated. Plate the greens on four plates. Top the greens with the apple slices, then the pecans, the goat cheese crumbles, and the pomegranate seeds. Drizzle the last of the vinaigrette over the top of each salad. Add the fried shallot rings and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.