When I was in middle school, our faculty would pass out pomegranates to the students during the fall. Kids being kids, instead of eating the fruit, they would smash them on the floor, walls, and ceilings to create one giant mess. Needless to say, the faculty soon stopped giving out free fruit. Now as an adult, I wish someone would give me free fruit every month. What a treat that would be! Kids really don't appreciate the little things. Anyway, I decided to highlight the wonderful pomegranate today in a Honeycrisp apple pomegranate salad finished with goat cheese croutons, smoky pepitas, roasted sweet potatoes, and honey pomegranate vinaigrette. If this isn't one salad that doesn't scream fall, I don't know what is!
Honeycrisp Apple Pomegranate Salad
Roasted sweet potato
- 1 large sweet potato peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup pepitas
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
Honey pomegranate dressing
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
Goat cheese croutons
- ½ cup panko
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 8- ounce goat cheese at room temperature
- 1 honey crisp apple thinly sliced
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- 4 cups mesclun greens
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Toss the cubed peeled sweet potato with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.
- Toss ½ cup pepitas with ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 tablespoon honey. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until toasted and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the salad dressing. Blend together 2 tablespoon honey with 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, ½ cup pomegranate arils, and ¼ cup balsamic vinegar. Slowly drizzle ½ cup olive oil while the blender is on until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
- Prepare the goat cheese croutons. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Add ½ cup panko with 2 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Stir constantly to evenly brown the breadcrumbs. Remove from heat once the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Let cool slightly.
- Cut the goat cheese into bite-size chunks. Coat the goat cheese in the lemon breadcrumbs, making sure to cover all sides.
- Toss together the mesclun greens with the apples, ½ cup pomegranate arils, roasted sweet potatoes, and vinaigrette. Top with the smoky pepitas and goat cheese croutons. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I've been preparing more and more vegetarian salads and to be honest, I don't miss the meat. Salads like this Honeycrisp apple pomegranate salad that are loaded with ingredients not only taste amazing, they keep you satisfied.
Let's start by roasting the sweet potatoes. Peel, cube, and toss the sweet potatoes in oil, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Remove the sweet potatoes and reduce the oven to 350 degrees F.
Next, make the smoky pepitas. Pepitas or pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium and just overall great for you. We're going to season the seeds with cinnamon, chili powder, and honey to give it a nice smoky-sweet flavor and finish them in the oven.
As much as I love pomegranates, I despise preparing them. I've tried all the tricks in the book and the best approach I have is to separate the fruit by its membranes. When you cut into the pomegranate, you will find several sections divided by a thin white skin. By working in sections, you can easily take out the seeds. It also helps to keep the fruit in a bowl of cold water while removing the seeds so that they don't splatter everywhere. My husband ruined one of his shirts trying to help me because the juice squirted everywhere. It's a dangerous task.
Now for the goat cheese croutons. Okay so technically, these are panko-crusted goat cheese nuggets but the same difference, right? Make the seasoned breadcrumbs by toasting them in oil with parsley, lemon zest, and garlic powder. Cut the softened goat cheese into bite-size pieces and coat them in the breadcrumbs. Much easier than frying the cheese and the cheese actually keeps its shape.
Blend together the pomegranate dressing and you're all ready to assemble the Honeycrisp apple pomegranate salads. I always switch between salads but this one has been on rotation for quite a while and I haven't gotten sick of it yet. All in all, delicious!
For more salad inspiration check out this roasted potato and egg salad!