Jump to Recipe
Combining some of fall's best produce to create a beautiful Honeycrisp apple pomegranate salad. With roasted sweet potatoes, fresh apples, goat cheese croutons, pomegranate arils, and smoky pepitas, you'll be craving this salad all season long!
Watch how to make this
What makes this dish special
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. Salads like this one that's loaded with ingredients not only taste amazing, but they keep you satisfied. Serve it on its own or enjoy it as a side dish, either way, you'll be glad you prepared it!
- Sweet potatoes: Starchy root vegetables with a sweet taste and a rich orange color. If you don't like sweet potatoes you can also use butternut squash, honeynut squash, or kabocha squash.
- Pepitas: The pumpkin seeds have great crunch but you can also use other nuts such as almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, or walnuts.
- Pomegranate: A fruit with juicy seeds (arils) that have a sweet-tart flavor. We're using the fruit for both the salad dressing and for the salad itself.
- Honey: The natural sweetener helps balance the tart pomegranate and balsamic vinegar in the salad dressing. You can also use agave if you prefer.
- Panko: The Japanese breadcrumb has larger flakes than regular breadcrumbs, giving the goat cheese croutons a light and crispy shell.
- Goat cheese: The creamy cheese is ideal for the croutons because of its texture. However, you can also use feta or ricotta.
- Honeycrisp apple: This specific apple is a variety of apple known for its sweet, juicy, and crisp texture. Other substitutions include Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady.
How to Make Honeycrisp Apple Pomegranate Salad
Step 1: Prepare sweet potato and pepitas
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 them a nice smoky-sweet flavor and finish them in the oven.
You can prepare the pepitas the day before if you prefer.
Step 2: Make salad dressing and croutons
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.
Remove the pomegranate arils and set aside some for the salad while using the remaining for the salad dressing. You can also prepare the salad dressing the day before.
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.
Step 3: Putting it all together
Now that all of the components are ready, you can assemble the Honeycrisp apple pomegranate salads. Toss mesclun greens or your favorite salad greens with the fresh sliced apple, roasted sweet potato, smoky pepitas, goat cheese croutons, pomegranate arils, and a good drizzle of the salad dressing.
Whew, I'll admit that was a bit of work for a salad but wow the flavors come together so well! 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!
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can adjust the sweetness of the dressing by adding more or less honey according to your taste preference.
You can use gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed gluten-free crackers as an alternative to panko for a gluten-free version.
Grilled or roasted chicken, chickpeas, or quinoa can be added to make the salad more filling with protein.
Here are my favorite dishes to pair with the salad:
Honeycrisp Apple Pomegranate Salad
Roasted sweet potato
- 1 large sweet potato peeled, cut into small chunks
- 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 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
Goat cheese croutons
- ½ cup panko
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons 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 oil, 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 pepitas with cinnamon, chili powder, oil, and 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 honey with dijon mustard, pomegranate arils, and balsamic vinegar. Slowly drizzle olive oil while the blender is on until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
- Prepare the goat cheese croutons. Heat oil in a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Add panko, lemon zest, dried parsley, and 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, pomegranate arils, roasted sweet potatoes, and vinaigrette. Top with the smoky pepitas and goat cheese croutons. Serve immediately.