In the summer, we eat salads often, the cool crispness of the lettuce offering us a brief reprieve from the sweltering humidity outside, promising not to bog us down with heavy stomachs or, worse, heated kitchens. Unfortunately, when the humidity dissipates from the air and the temperatures drop, we find ourselves inhaling hefty dish after hefty dish, braised-in-wine this and then that-with-a-cream-sauce-over-orzo. I can’t lie: I love these dishes, much more so than trying to convince my rich-leaning palate to dance delicately around ingredients, perfecting grill marks and citrus marinades, chilling things as long as I feel I should be braising them. But, man, I love a good salad.
I remember an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine asks the guys to order her a “big salad”, and they banter over this concept for nearly the entire episodes. To this day, I feel more connected to Elaine, despite the puffy-hipped jeans, corduroy blazers, and collection of barrettes, because of this insatiable craving that nags at me several times during the week for a “big salad”. And to this day, I have no idea why this was so confusing to the guys. You’re my girl, E. You’re my girl.
This kale, pomegranate, and feta salad with Dijon vinaigrette and pepitas is the perfect “big salad” for punctuating those wintry months of turkey legs and an intimate relationship with your slow cooker. It’s hearty without being heavy, thanks to the baby kale, the petite leaf that’s sturdy enough to stand up to a winter salad, yet delicate enough to preclude the need for 200 chews per bite. You can usually find baby kale in the refrigerated produce section with bags of spinach and salad mixes.
Pomegranate seeds–or arils, technically–provide a gorgeous brightness and bursting juiciness, a tart sweetness to offset the salty feta and nutty pepitas. I infused the Dijon vinaigrette with shallot for a garlicky bite that stands up perfectly to the baby kale. You could easily add some grilled chicken to this salad for a more traditional main-course satisfaction, but the feta and pepitas should be enough for this to be a “big salad” along with a little veggie or starch on the side.
- 5 oz. baby kale, about 4 cups
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 2 -4 tablespoons feta
- 3 teaspoons quality Dijon mustard
- 3 teaspoons quality apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 medium shallot or whole small shallot, minced
- neutral oil or olive oil, a little less than 1/2 cup
- sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- In a measuring cup with handle, mix the Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar with a small whisk. Slowly add in the oil, a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. It helps to place a towel underneath the measuring cup! Ensure that you fully emulsify (dissolve the liquids and oil to smoothness) the oil before adding much more. Add enough oil to measure 1/2 cup total. Add in the minced shallot and stir.
- Add in a few pinches of salt and a bit of freshly ground pepper and taste (try dipping a piece of kale in the dressing for a more accurate taste than straight off a spoon). Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Divide the kale between two bowls and place half pomegranate seeds, half feta, and half pepitas
- on each bowl of kale. Drizzle with dressing, to taste, and serve.
- To remove seeds from pomegranate without mess: slice off the crown (top) of the pomegranate then cut into sections. Submerge sections in a bowl of water and simply roll out the seeds with your fingers. Drain the bowl of seeds into a strainer