Ginger Jeweled Salad Recipe

A jewel-inspired holiday salad recipe - mixed leafy salad greens, wild rice, toasted hazelnuts, dried figs and pluots, tossed with a simple ginger juice vinaigrette that I spiked with just a hint of jalapeno.

Ginger Jeweled Salad

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.

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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.

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I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. Alena


You have a lot of yes-women. All of them like your recipe but they've not tried it.


The main culprit for wheezing is sodium bisulfite or sodium metabisulfite (sulfites, SO3) rather than the elemental form of sulfur itself, a least for most people. If you can't find sulfur-free, and your sensitivity is not extreme, you might cautiously try sulfur dioxide-treated (SO2) or old-fashioned sulfur-fumed fruits. By reacting with other compounds, the sulfur does produce some of the more reactive SO3 form, but nowhere near as bad as your average metabisulfited apricots, coconut, pears.


Beautiful salad! Delicious!


Yummy looking. I've been veggie/vegan for 12 years and have become really tired of hearing "You can just have the salad" whenever I went out with friends for dinner, so I almost never eat salad. But you know, I think I'll really like this one. Ah, pomegranates. I love fussy food almost as much as I love pretty food--but only when I'm not super-hungry. To get the yummy goodness of pomegranate with the least mess and effort, score the skin 4-5 times stem to flower, and fill a mixing bowl with water. Holding the pomegranate under water, open the fruit and rub off the seeds; they will sink, and the bitter whitish pith will mostly float. Scoop off the floating bits, drain your seeds, and enjoy.


I can't wait to try this! It contains some of my most favorite, favorite foods... figs, ginger, and hazelnuts. Yummy! Thanks, Heidi!


"In protest, each December, I arm myself with all manner of dried fruits, juicy citrus, and rosy pomegranates. They work beautifully in salads.." I'm definitely joining that protest. I like apples and raisins, nuts and sesame seeds in my salads, also. Dried cranberries, blueberries, plums (prunes) are also wonderful. A simple favorite of mine is the orange, coconut, date pieces w/ a little honey for a fruit salad. I only regret that the fresh ginger was nowhere to be seen at one store, this week, despite the sign, and I forgot that staple at the next place. Fresh ginger is a great energy tonic in carrot/apple/greens fresh juices. As for dried fruit without sulphur, since I am allergic to it, (can't even have wine for the sulfites) I'm still looking for dried figs without that preservative at an old supplier. They are currently out. Figs are a great alkalinizer, and energizer for on-the-go snacks. When I had some cancer surgery 4 years ago, the cafeteria nutritionist told me sulfites were in the boxed juices, all the food, and even the salad was sprayed with it. Is MSG okay, she asked? No, thank you I said. I starved, looking at some nasty caffeinated tea, jello and crackers on the dismal tray. Why would I want to feed any cancer cells, or participate in processed malnutrition meals? I shook my head, knowing that the whole staff, (including nurses that would ask me about alternative cancer treatments) were eating in that cafeteria. Talk about bringing in business. I was grateful for the friend who brought in chicken soup and yogurt. Thanks Heidi for another healthy idea.


Oh thank you, Heidi, for showing me what I can do with pluots because I haven't been able to find a good recipe for them. Just a few days ago, I couldn't resist buying a packet of attractive ruby-red pluots from the dried fruit section of Waitrose (an upscale supermarket chain here in England). I make a point of buying one unusual, never-tried-before ingredient each time I go shopping - but with this one I was at a loss. I had never heard of, or seen, pluots before, and had no idea what to do with them (except thinking maybe I could try them in porridge). Well now, thanks to you, I do! I'll try your recipe this weekend: it looks like a box of jewellery left open on a dresser!


Ginger has such great health benefits, and it looks lovely.

This is just the type of dish I've been hungry for, something light, but still flavorful, after the heavy, rich carbs of Thanksgiving. I like the idea of adding jalapeno to the dressing.


I am currently drinking a homemade pomegranate margarita which I am *pretty sure* is nearly as healthy as your salad. Thankfully health is something one can never have too much of :)

Hilary @ Smorgasbite

I've had an obsession with ginger as of late, and I'm always a sucker for dried fruit. This salad looks so amazing and I cannot wait to try it!


Pluots? I've never had pluots before. Nor have I ever made ginger juice jalapeno dressing! I love your blog for that reason — I'm always learning something new. Thanks! Melissa


Heidi, this salad looks so delicious and healthy! One of my favorite things to do is to add fruits, both fresh and dried, to salads. I make a similar ginger balsamic vinaigrette that a pour on just about everything -stir fries, baked sweet potatoes, congee... Thanks again for all your beautiful recipes! Hayley


Wow, learn something new every day. I've never heard of plouts, I had to look it up! I have a secret method for extracting ginger juice - I use my garlic press. But it has to be a heavy duty garlic press, and don't make the slices too thick. I've broken a garlic press before (on a really big garlic clove). :-o I adore anything with ginger! This looks beautiful. HS: Genius! The garlic press totally makes sense. I'll have to try it next time. -h


Oh how I wish I could take pictures like you! I will make this for dinner along with the mushroom casserole and it will be a 101cookbooks night. Thanks for the inspiration, as always!


I get weirdly happy whenever you have a new recipe up. This looks great. I absolutely stay away from sulphured dried fruit--not only is the idea yucky but it can bring on asthmatic symptoms. Funny, as a kid with asthma I instinctively knew I had to stay away from dried apricots (sulphur) and boxed mashed potatoes (yellow food coloring), but only now as an adult i'm figuring out why! In any case, I think this salad might be a good excuse to make some home-dried fruit in my dehydrator. I haven't tried it yet!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

So pretty! I love the ginger juice idea.


Dried fruits are a delight on a salad, and I couldn't agree more that they are a wonderful way to stave off the greyness of cold winter days. I like the idea of a ginger flavored dressing for this salad. Ginger miso dressings are one of my favorite commercially prepared dressings, but I have never tried to make something comparable at home.

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet

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!

Organic Goodness

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


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.


I love the detail of adding in the ginger juice. A wonderful idea!

Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

Beyond stunning.


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. ;)

Laurel from Simple Spoonful

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


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! :)

Fit Bottomed Girls

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

Culinary Cory

The dressing sounds really good and you can never go wrong with dried fruits - thanks!!

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

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!

The Wind Attack

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


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