Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall Salad with Pear and Pomegranate Seeds

Hold onto your hats. I'm about to get poetic and analytical all over this crazy fruit.

Some religious scholars believe that the fruit in the Garden of Eden was not an apple but a pomegranate.

I have no idea what the basis for this belief is, but if true, the notion has profound theological implications. A person might eat a forbidden apple on impulse. It takes determination and forethought to eat a forbidden pomegranate.

Little wonder that the pomegranate worked its way into myth. Just opening a pomegranate feels a little bit like an epic quest: the nearly impenetrable rind hiding row upon row of brilliant, pellucid arils, each aril in turn housing within its magenta flesh a small, thin seed, deep and quiet as a buried secret. Seeding a pomegranate engages the visual and tactile senses in a way that makes reality seem more real; at the same time, the material world-- not just the fruit in your hands but the plastic cutting board and Formica tile and the football game on television in the next room-- opens up and takes on a strange, even spiritual aura. You stand at the kitchen counter, hands slick with tap water, and coax seeds from a membrane, and suddenly you find the sweet spot where a sense of usefulness and industry intersects with wonder at the world and three or four different kinds of sensory pleasure.

Of course, it helps even more if you have a good salad to throw your pomegranate seeds into when you're done extracting them.

"There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

In addition to the tart, gently crunchy pomegranate arils, this salad features sweetness from pears, creaminess from beans, crunch from pecans, and bite from a maple-Dijon dressing. It's a great way to celebrate fall.

A salad worth three months in the underworld and expulsion from Paradise? I couldn't say. But it is good.


1 tablespoon each olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar; feel free to throw in some lemon juice if you like
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
2 cups greens
1 pear, chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup red beans
1/4 cup pecan halves
Salt and pepper to taste


Whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon. (Hint: if you use the olive oil first, the maple syrup will glide right off the tablespoon, no muss no fuss.)

Toss everything in a bowl. Boom.

Variation: If your pear is a little under-ripe-- or even if it isn't-- try roasting it with a cup of broccoli in a tablespoon of coconut oil, 425 degrees for 20 or 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through.

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