Ginger Jeweled Salad

Ginger Jeweled Salad Recipe

This is the time of year to add a bit of flash and color to your food. The skies are low-hanging and weepy. The days are short, getting shorter. In protest, each December, I arm myself with all manner of dried fruits, juicy citrus, and rosy pomegranates. They work beautifully in salads, including this jewel-inspired ensemble I made the other night. Mixed leafy salad greens, wild rice, toasted hazelnuts, dried figs and pluots are combined in a big bowl and then tossed with a simple ginger juice vinaigrette spiked with just a hint of jalapeno. It's festive with enough going on flavor-wise to keep people guessing.

Holiday Salad Recipe

I've likely said this before, but I can't emphasize it enough - the key to amazing salad is seeking out the very best lettuce you can find. In this instance I did a mix of what looked best at the store. A blend of red romaine and little gem lettuces. I avoid bagged, pre-washed lettuce - it often smells off to me. I baby my lettuce all the way home, making sure other groceries don't smash or bruise it. To clean it, I tear the lettuce into manageable, bite-sized pieces, wash it gently in cold water, and then spin it dry. If I'm not using it immediately, I re-bag it with a clean (lightweight) dish towel and place it back in the crisper until I'm ready to toss the salad.

Ginger Jeweled Salad Recipe

Feel free to substitute other dried fruit if it is more convenient. Just try to imagine if it will pair nicely with ginger and go from there. I also do my best to seek out unsulphured dried fruit. As I mentioned before, in this instance I used a festive combination of leafy red romaine lettuce along with some little gem lettuce, but buy whatever lettuce looks the most vibrant at the store. Feel free to make the vinaigrette the day before, and if you don't have the time or inclination to cook up a pot of wild rice, you can now purchase pre-cooked rice in packets in many Whole Foods Markets, Trader Joes and the like - look in the rice shelves as well as the freezer section.

1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice, made by grating a 4-5-inch piece of ginger into a pile and then pressing it against a strainer to extract the ginger juice

2 tablespoons white wine or Champagne vinegar
fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon jalapeno, very finely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2/3 cup dried figs, stems trimmed, quartered
1/3 cup dried pluots, chopped
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, loosely chopped
1 1/3 cup cooked wild rice, room temperature
5 big handfuls of leafy salad greens (see headnotes), washed and dried

In a mason jar or medium bowl make the ginger vinaigrette by whisking together the ginger juice, vinegar, jalapeno, and a couple big pinches of salt. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the jar whisking all the while. Stop when the dressing takes on a slightly creamy appearance. Taste and adjust the flavors if needed. Set aside.

Hold off dressing the salad until just before you are ready to serve it. This will help to keep the lettuce vibrant and lively. In a large bowl toss the figs, pluots, hazelnuts and wild rice with a generous splash of the dressing. Once they are nicely coated, add the lettuce, a bit more vinaigrette, and a pinch of salt. Gently toss until the lettuce is evenly coated. Taste and adjust if needed. The little bits of fruit and nuts tend to fall to the bottom of the bowl, so before serving scoop them back up from the bottom so you end up with plenty of rice and fruit on top.

Serves about 6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

yeah this looks so delicious! I could use salad recipes right now... carbo overload! I just picked up some turmeric that I'll try throwing in. Thanks!

Wow, Heidi, once again a winner! I think this would be excellent for Christmas Eve dinner! Yum!

Elaine

It is only on your blog that the phrase "a simple ginger juice vinagrette spiked with jalapeno" can be found! I thought I was instinctive when I first figured out a good honey-mustard... Your palate matches mine, but you have an incredible ease with ingredients to which I can only aspire.

Stephanie

I absolutely agree with you on choosing the best lettuce available at the time of purchase. All the produce is precious, and like you, I baby mine too. This is a tasty looking salad and the ingredients are festive, perfect for the holiday menu. I look forward to making this one. Thanks!

What a great combination of flavors!! I can't wait to give it a try!

I love putting fresh and dried fruit and nuts in salads. Love ginger so will try this. My question is you mentioned pomegranates. How do you do that? Do you press the seeds to remove the juice? Do you have a tiny scoop so you can cut them in half and scoop out the little seedlets. LOL I am really interested because I love pomegranates. Do you know if ginger and pomegranates work well together? Thanks!

Daphne in Orange

I don't generally like dried fruit in my salads, but this sounds very different and interesting. The ginger dressing I have to try and dried pluots, fascinating. Sounds like just what I need to get out of this winter slump. Thanks!

Mmmm. Ginger and jalapeno. Good, warming choices. I agree about lettuce--no matter what other exciting things you have in the salad, it will fall apart if your lettuce is limp, overly tough, or otherwise "off." I'm excited I have my own lettuces poking their heads about the dirt in my winter garden. Ah, the blessings of living in a warm climate. ;)

This looks amazingly beautiful and yummy too. Thank you for helping me change my life and diet with your beautiful recipes.

jakey1998

I love putting dried fruits and nuts into salad. So delicious. The jalapeno is a stroke of genius, I bet it melds well with the fruit.

That salad is gorgeous! I find that in the winter I shy away from eating salads since I want something warm, but I think I could eat this one with no problem! :)

I love adding dried fruits and nuts to salads. The flavor is so much more intensified and the crunch is just fun.

I agree -- we definitely need to be eating happy-looking food to get us through the winter :) This salad looks perfect -- looking forward to trying the dressing too! Thanks for your always wonderful recipes Heidi.

I adore ginger so the dressing sounds just fantastic to me! You're such a trendsetter Heidi - I was reading the Epicurious "What You'll Eat in 2009" report and apparently ginger is the new mint :-)

Wow, never seen dried pluots before, but they look super delish!

I loved the dried fruit & ginger combination, will try it soon. Thank you!

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