I’ve been having way too much fun with pomegranates lately. They are such a seasonal delicacy. I wait all year to enjoy them only in the month of December when I’m making festive holiday recipes. Foods that are naturally bright and colorful with deep red or purple pigments are often the highest in antioxidants. Pomegranates have been enjoyed for centuries as a prized fruit and beauty food…literally. Pomegranate juice works great as lip stain!
The other day I whipped up this salad on a whim and it turned out so beautiful and tasty that I just had to share it with you. I’m finally getting over my nasty head cold, but it is through nourishing and colorful foods like these that we can all support our immune systems to stay strong and hopefully illness-free this winter.
But even if you serve this as part of your holiday meal, it won’t look like “immunity food,” trust me. With the creaminess of the squash and the crunch of the pomegranate seeds complementing each other, the salad might just become a new favorite! It has for me.
Hemp seeds (which I also use in treats like these Coconut Hemp Earth Balls) are packed with healthy fats and complete protein, so I toss them on everything. They’ve sort of replaced sesame seeds for me. I still love sesame, but hemp seeds are just as delicious and more nutritious across the board.
I’m breathing a sigh of relief as I write this post. Yesterday I finished up my Christmas shopping and mailed a big brown box of presents out to my sister’s. My Christmas cards are ready to be mailed, my kitchen is stocked with healthy food to enjoy this week, and I’m not responsible for the big Christmas meal this year (other than dessert…) so there’s no menu planning to do. I’m looking forward to kicking back and enjoying the rest of the month day by day, letting the magic of the season wash over me and the frigid cold snap we’re having pull me inside by the fireplace to spend time reading the Christmas story, reflecting on the past year, and looking ahead to the new one.
Granted, December is still a busy month for me, but I’m grateful that most of the “work” is done so that I can shift my focus to a higher place now.
December Cooking Class
One last thing before I give you the recipe. If you’re local to the Madison (Wisconsin) area, join me for a cooking class this Sunday at Willy Street Co-op West in Middleton. I’ll be teaching on allergy-friendly holiday treats. I’ll show you how to make delectable holiday goodies without gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, or soy. I’m a big believer that an allergy-friendly diet can be delicious…even during the holidays! Recipes include: Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, Snickerdoodle Ice Cream, Orange Oatmeal Cookies with Caramel Drizzle, and Cranberry Gingerbread Cookie Dough Balls.
When: Sunday, December 15 at 2 pm
Where: Willy Street Co-op in Middleton on University Ave.
Cost: $15 for members, $25 for non-members
Sign up: Call Willy Street at 608-284-7800) or stop in at the store and go to the customer service desk
Bring: Your appetite! (And maybe a pen to take notes.)
- 2 medium butternut squashes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 8 cups chunks)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup raw hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss the squash cubes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large bowl. Arrange the squash on the 2 baking sheets. Bake, rotating pans once halfway through, for 25-30 minutes until the squash is tender and brown in spots.
- Cool the squash for 10 minutes, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Gently stir in the pomegranate seeds, hemp seeds, and parsley.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the maple syrup and vinegar. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.