Monday, November 4, 2013


Is there a more beautiful fruit? I think not! The lovely tree in my photo grows in Banning, CA. but soon we hope to be enjoying our very own crop. Amazingly, pomegranate trees do well here in our crazy climate. We have three (yes three!) newly planted pomegranate trees and they are growing like weeds. Now that is a hardy species!
I know it's a pain to get to the fruit, (click here to see the best way!) but worth the effort when those juicy little arils go "pop" in your mouth. I love to eat them by the handful, toss them into salads along with some toasted pine nuts, or add them into my hot cinnamon oatmeal for a sweet/sour bite.
They even work in candy, check out this chocolate/pomegranate bark I made for a party last winter. Rich dark chocolate and a juicy nod to summer, yum!
This season's craving has been for the fabulous Delicata squash salad I was fortunate enough to eat at the Dhalia Lounge during a visit to Seattle a few years back. I remember beautifully sautéed half-rounds of an unfamiliar squash atop a bed of mixed greens with spiced pecans and a simple but complimentary dressing. I had never even heard of Delicata squash before that lovely experience, but now I eagerly await it's fall arrival. This is my latest attempt at re-creating this dish.

Like all squash, the smaller Delicata is more tender, mine was medium small, and yes, you can eat the skin! No peeling. In fact, I prepared this salad at a leisurely pace throughout the day so the squash would have time to cool and then tossed everything together just before serving. I tried it with avocado and liked it, but felt this was optional to the success of the dish. The crunchiness of the romaine and cucumbers counter the soft richness of the squash and avocado, and the pop of pomegranate? Well, it's the best! This would be a great side to serve at pretty!

Delicata Squash Salad
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 Delicata squash, washed, sliced in 1/4-inch thick half-rounds seeds removed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
1/2 cup whole pecans, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 cups Romaine torn to bite-size
1 ripe avocado, sliced into half-rounds (optional)
1 pomegranate, arils removed
1/2 seedless cucumber, sliced into 1/4" half-rounds

The Vinaigrette

1/3 cup pomegranate juice (I used Pom)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger
1 large garlic clove, peeled and freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Slice the squash and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Add the squash to the skillet and cook until golden, about 5 minutes per side. Sprinkle with brown sugar to help caramelize, if desired.

Meanwhile: In a small dry skillet toast the pecans over very low heat, stirring and tossing as they toast. Watch them closely. They are done when you start to smell roasted pecans! Remove from heat and the pan! Toss them in a bowl and sprinkle with the pumpkin pie spice, stirring to cover evenly. Make a bit extra for snacking...yum.

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together all ingredients except the olive oil to combine, then in a steady stream, add the olive oil, whisking constantly until the dressing comes together. Will keep for up to one week in the fridge.

Just Before Serving: Toss together the cucumber, avocado, pomegranate arils and cooled pecans and squash, arrange atop a bed of hand-torn Romaine. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!!
We had some left-over and the romaine stood up nicely, it was still wonderful!

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