When it’s freezing cold out and it’s still pitch dark by 5:00 p.m., you need to find the little things that make you happy. Here’s my shortlist of little things that make me happy in the winter:
- blood oranges
- meyer lemons
- sweet potatoes
- the fact that I can eat a lot of cheese and don’t have to put on a bathing suit
- blizzards when I’m inside and my loved ones are safe
- … I think that’s everything?
I told you it was short. And mostly food related. My friends at POM Wonderful sent me this lovely gift that definitely brightened up a long winter day. It was filled with pomegranates, POM Wonderful juice and their Super Teas, a slate serving board, and a fabulous cookbook.
I immediately opened the cookbook and picked out the first recipe I wanted to make.
I have had a serious crush on José Andrés since I went to his secret restaurant in Las Vegas and he tweeted to me to tell me he loved me. YES, José Andrés told me he loved me. Basically. Close enough.
Anyway, José Andrés’ recipe was for an appetizer. A Seared Halloumi with Dates, Orange, and Pomegranate Arils salad. So, essentially a cheese salad. Is he not the smartest man ever?
It also involved pomegranate molasses. The extra of which I now have sitting in my fridge and I can’t wait to drizzle it over all things savory and sweet.
This is overall a simple dish, but one filled with bright colors and perfect for serving to guests. I made a couple adjustments based on what I had on hand… like using clementines instead of oranges.
But yes, the pomegranate molasses is my favorite part. It uses 3 cups of pomegranate juice. Which you could get by juicing 6-9 large POM Wonderful pomegranates. Or you could just use Pom Wonderful juice! All you do is combine the juice with 1/4 C sugar and the juice from 1 lemon in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Then, reduce the mixture until a very thick syrup forms. The mixture should thickly coat the back of a spoon. It took my mixture about 20 minutes or so to reduce. And it was kind of sad to see my pomegranate juice slowly disappearing. But so worth it!
I poured mine into a mason jar to cool, but you could also just put in a bowl.
While the molasses was cooling to room temperature, I prepared my pomegranate arils.
I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I have a new favorite way of getting pomegranate arils out… Whacking the pomegranates with a wooden spoon! You could also use the break open under water and remove arils yourself method. You’ll need about 1/4 C for this recipe, but more is never a bad thing!
Onto the cheese frying! Heat a medium-sized non-stick (the non-stick is very important!) pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 1 T grapeseed oil. Then when the oil is just starting to smoke, put the halloumi in the pan and sear it until it browns. You’ll have to flip and sear for about a minute and a half on each side.
Remove the halloumi to a plate and add 4 pitted and diced dates and 2 oz. shelled and chopped pistachios to the pan, cooking for just a minute to warm through.
I thought I had a huge bag of pistachios, but I thought wrong. I ended up picking out the pistachios from a fancy nut mix. Oops. Whoever opens that fancy nut mix next is going to be very disappointed.
Now, let’s plate this baby. It’s recommended to serve on four plates, but I couldn’t get over how beautiful the salad looked on a slate serving board, so I served the salad on there before putting it on separate plates.
I put the seared halloumi on first. And then garnished with the dates and pistachios, a segmented clementine, pomegranate arils, and some mint leaves. Then drizzle the salad with 1 T extra-virgin olive oil and 2 T of the pomegranate molasses.
If you’re serving right on a plate, drizzle the olive oil and molasses first and then construct the salad.
I think this is a great way to start a meal, but I won’t lie and will tell you I ate this salad for a meal.
I actually didn’t discover halloumi cheese until a couple years ago, but it’s totally life-changing. It’s a grillable cheese, which means you can do things like grill and sauté it and it will hold it’s form. And become even more flavorful!
But you probably already know that the true star of this show is the pomegranate molasses. It was awesome on this salad, but I also really just wanted to eat it with a spoon. I’m planning to make blood orange ice cream later this week and have a feeling I’ll be drizzling some of this on top.
There were pretty much no colors ignored in the making of this salad.
And I’m adding it to my list of the little things in winter that make me happy. Cheese salad. I mean, why have I never thought of this before?
Thanks to POM Wonderful for sending me these treats and introducing me to a dish that is definitely going to be made again and again in my kitchen!
What would be your favorite part of this salad?
- 3 C Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
- ¼ C granluated sugar
- Juice from 1 lemon
- ¼ C pomegranate arils from one Pom Wonderful pomegranate
- 2 T pomegranate molasses (from recipe above)
- 1 T grapeseed oil (if can't find, use canola oil)
- 12 oz. halloumi cheese, cut into ½" square pieces (if can't find, use any firm sheep's milk cheese)
- 4 large dates, pitted and diced
- 2 oz. roasted and salted pistachios, shelled
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clementine, peeled and segmented
- 2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves torn off
- Combine pomegranate juice with sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce the mixture until a very thick syrup forms. The mixture should thickly coat the back of a spoon and will take about 20 minutes to do so.
- Pour into a mason jar or bowl to cool to room temperature.
- Heat a medium-sized non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 1 T grapeseed or canola oil.
- When the oil is just starting to smoke, put the halloumi in the pan and sear it until it browns. You’ll have to flip and sear for about a minute and a half on each side.
- Remove the halloumi to a plate and add 4 pitted and diced dates and 2 oz. shelled and chopped pistachios to the pan, cooking for just a minute to warm through.
- If serving on a serving plate: Place seared halloumi on the serving plate. Garnish with dates and pistachios, a segmented clementine, pomegranate arils, and mint leaves. Then drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses.
- If serving individually: Drizzle four plates with extra-virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Then divide seared halloumi between four plates. Garnish each plate with dates and pistachios, segmented clementine, pomegranate arils, and mint leaves.