Thanksgiving is a big deal for my family. My dad has five brothers, so sometimes we make a group of about 30 people with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, kids, and significant others. Everyone always brings a dish. Being a fan of Janet Taylor’s recipes, I decided to think outside the box one Thanksgiving and make her Kale–Pomegranate Salad with Grapefruit Dressing, from The Green Southwest Cookbook, as a side dish. I was treated to rave reviews, and most people had never tried a kale salad before. This year I will make it again, because it was so good and unique.
It also fits in with the holidays perfectly. As Janet says: “During the holiday season, this salad will cheerfully accent a festive dinner table décor with its shiny green leaves punctuated with glistening red edible ornaments. It it at its best if it is allowed to marinate overnight, making it perfect for a no-hassle luncheon the next day.”
That’s another reason I like it: I can make it the night before or the morning of, and then it’s ready to go with no further prep for the meal later in the afternoon or early evening. I admit I cut a few corners by getting pre-washed and cut bagged kale and prepared pomegranate seeds from Trader Joe’s. I double the recipe for our large group.
Kale–Pomegranate Salad with Grapefruit Dressing
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
2 pieces of fresh peeled ginger, the diameter of a quarter by 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup chopped sweet pink or red grapefruit sections (membrane-free)
2 pitted dates, chopped and mashed
1 garlic clove, run through garlic press
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon coarse-grain yellow mustard
1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (sliced in half rounds)
8–10 green or purple-red kale leaves
1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sweet pink or ruby-red grapefruit sections (membrane-free)
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Freshly ground black or multi-color pepper
To make the dressing: Release the juice from the 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds by pressing the seeds against a mesh strainer or muddling the seeds in a cup. Remove the seeds and set the juice aside. Release the juice from the ginger by muddling, pressing, and crushing the ginger pieces with the 1/4 cup of grapefruit pieces, dates, and garlic until all is pretty much masticated; add the pomegranate juice and the remaining dressing ingredients (vinegar through sliced red onion) and set aside. You may prefer removing the ginger before tossing together the dressing and salad. (Some people enjoy biting into fresh ginger and others don’t.)
Thoroughly rinse the kale with cold water. Tear the leaves from the tough spines and into tiny bite-size pieces. Remove excess water by using a salad spinner, or dry the leaves with a cotton towel. With fingers, massage 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the kale leaves until all the leaves glisten, adding more oil as necessary. This will break down the leaves somewhat, causing some juice to release from the leaves, and it tames any bitter flavor. Add and thoroughly toss the grapefruit, pomegranate seeds, dressing, and pepper with the kale. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Allow the salad to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Variation: Substitute fresh oranges or tangerines for the grapefruit.