This Pomegranate Fall Harvest Salad is the perfect fresh, bright addition to your Thanksgiving table! Sweet and earthy roasted butternut squash, juicy pomegranates, candied pecans, kale, quinoa, and creamy goat cheese. All tossed together in a sweet and tangy pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. Pretty and healthy – it just might be the first thing to go at Thanksgiving!
The Salad Steals the Show this Thanksgiving
I’m a firm believer that a good Thanksgiving menu requires a fresh, bright salad. It adds a pop of color amongst a sea of brown and orange foods to bring life to your Thanksgiving table-scape. It also adds much needed relief to all the rich foods.
Your Thanksgiving salad, although healthy and fresh, doesn’t need to be boring. My Pomegranate Fall Harvest Salad is bursting with big flavor. It features sweet and earthy roasted butternut squash, juicy pomegranates, bright kale, quinoa, candied pecans, and tangy goat cheese. Then, it’s topped with a sweet, tangy, sticky, outrageously delicious pomegranate molasses vinaigrette.
This elegant and colorful Pomegranate Fall Harvest Salad will be the star at your Thanksgiving table.
Ingredients in this Pomegranate Harvest Salad
Here’s what you need to make this salad:
- butternut squash, it gets roasted with cinnamon until it’s golden brown and caramelized.
- kale, this hearty, nutrient-rich green adds a pop of color and freshness to the salad. It also stands up well to the other hearty ingredients and sweet, tangy dressing without getting soggy or lost in the salad.
- pomegranates, these ruby gems adds pops of sweet, tartness to the salad.
- goat cheese, it’s a sweet, creamy element to the salad that pairs perfectly with the earthy butternut squash.
- candied pecans, give a sweet and salty crunch element to the salad.
- cinnamon, ground cinnamon is added to both the butternut squash and dressing to help bring out those Fall vibes!
- parsley, I always love to add fresh herbs for a pop of freshness. And they look pretty!
Don’t Forget that Magical Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette
The salad all comes together with this magical, sweet, tangy, and rich pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. The star ingredient is pomegranate molasses. Pomegranate molasses is a traditional Middle Eastern syrup, with sweet and tart flavors, used in marinades, dips and even stews. It has a beautiful, rich viscosity that also makes it perfect for dressings. The wonderful tangy pomegranate notes also help make this dish feel vibrant and Fall-inspired.
This pomegranate molasses vinaigrette comes together with the pomegranate molasses, balsamic vinegar, fresh orange juice, dijon mustard, a touch of cinnamon, pure maple syrup, and olive oil. Simply add all of the ingredients to a salad shaker and shake until well-combined.
How to make this Pomegranate Harvest Salad
HOW TO MAKE IT
Here’s how to make this salad:
- First, roast the butternut squash; the butternut squash is roasted with cinnamon and olive oil until it’s tender and caramelized. It takes about 25 minutes to bake and 5-10 minutes to cool.
- Next, make the dressing; This part is so easy. Just add all of the ingredients to a salad shaker (or jar with lid) and shake vigorously until it’s emulsified.
- Don’t forget to massage the kale; I know, this sounds strange, but it helps tenderize the kale and makes it much more enjoyable to eat. In fact, I used to really dislike kale (because it was so tough) until I started doing this. Just add the kale to a bowl with a little dressing. Use your hands to literally massage the dressing into the kale until the kale wilts slightly and turns a rich green.
- Add the quinoa to the kale; I like to toss the kale with the quinoa first so the quinoa is well-distributed and slightly dressed. Transfer the kale and quinoa to a serving platter.
- Top with all the ingredients; Finally, top the kale and quinoa with the the roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, candied pecans and fresh parsley.
- Toss and serve: right before serving, top with extra dressing and toss till combined!
TIPS FOR AN EASY SALAD
Here are a few tips to help minimize the effort in making this salad:
- Buy precut butternut squash. There are only a few vegetables/fruits I recommend buying precut (since it’s typically much more expensive). Butternut squash is one of them! It’s a bit intimidating and time-consuming to cut. So buying it precut is a great time and stress saver.
- Buy pomegranate seeds already ready: another fruit I buy ready to go is pomegranate seeds (who has time to be banging a whole pomegranate for a few seeds and creating a ruby red mess!). But only buy them a few days in advance as they get mealy pretty quickly and only last a few days.
- Buy microwaveable quinoa; it only takes 90 seconds to cook and minimizes the cleanup! I do personally like it made on the stove a little bit better, but if you are in a time crunch, this is a good shortcut!
- Make the dressing ahead of time: it stores well in the fridge and eliminates one of the steps when you go to make the salad.
- Make sure you have all of the ingredients: pomegranate molasses can be tricky to find at the store, so you may need to purchase it online. Thus, if you plan to make this for Thanksgiving, pick up the molasses ahead of time so you can make this amazing dressing.
HOW TO PREP THIS SALAD
Another reason I love this salad for Thanksgiving is it can be prepped in advanced. Roast the butternut squash 1-2 days before the big day. Store the roasted butter squash in an airtight container in the fridge. Do the same with the dressing and quinoa (unless using the microwavable kind). Finally, prep the kale by cutting out the ribs and chopping it. Then place the prepared kale in an airtight container as well.
When ready to make the salad, simply grab all the ready made components from the fridge plus the remaining ingredients and build the salad!
How to make this salad your own
- Add a protein: grilled chicken or pulled chicken would work great! Bacon would also be a welcomed guest to this party!
- Include more seasonal fruit: crisp, sweet honey crisp apples would be lovely in this salad! Or tart dried cranberries.
- Try a different grain: a wild rice or farro would also add a nice hearty bite.
- Get funky with the cheese: if goat cheese is too mild for your liking, add something with more bite, like a blue cheese or sharp white cheddar.
other great salads for Thanksgiving
This Pomegranate Fall Harvest Salad is perfect for your Thanksgiving table with it’s cozy, Fall flavors and bright, beautiful appearance.
If you make this Pomegranate Fall Harvest Salad please leave a comment below. I absolutely love to hear from you guys and your thoughts on my recipes. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or pin it on pinterest, cuz sharing is caring!
Pomegranate Fall Harvest Salad
This Pomegranate Fall Harvest Salad features sweet and earthy roasted butternut squash, juicy pomegranates, candied pecans, kale, quinoa, and tangy goat cheese. All tossed together in a sweet and tangy pomegranate molasses vinaigrette.
- 3 tablespoons pomegranate molases
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 14 oz diced butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- Pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa cooked to packaged instructions
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups chopped kale
- 3 oz goat cheese crumbles
- 1/4 cup chopped candied pecans
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- fresh parsely leaves for garnish, optional
For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a salad shaker (or jar with a lid) and shake vigorously until well-combined and emulsified. Add desired amount of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Add the diced butternut squash to a ziplock bag. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, ground cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, cloves, and salt and pepper. Shake until all the butternut squash is coated in the seasonings. Spread out on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until golden brown and tender.
Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Season with a tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
In a large bowl, toss together the kale with 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing and gently massage the kale to help tenderize it Add the quinoa and toss until the quinoa and kale are combined. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate.
Top with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, pecans, and pomegranate seeds. Top with desired amount of extra dressing.
Toss, serve and enjoy!
See tips above for some great shortcut/meal prep options.