Festive Red Salad
So much more than seasonal, this dramatic salad gives flare to the winter table.
by Erin Henderson
I first found this salad on Mimi Thorisson’s charming blog. The French/Chinese cookbook author and socialite specializes in cozy and comforting, yet elevated, classics – a lady after my own stomach.
This salad is so appropriate to serve during the holiday season: strikingly crimson, the bold red colour adds dramatic flair to the otherwise beige tones of the Christmas buffet. And the crunchy, crisp texture of seasonal vegetables not only tastes better the next day (a huge win for a busy hostess), but the healthy mix of fiber and antioxidant-rich vegetables give some much needed energy to the luxe abundance of yuletide feasts.
You might also like: Classic Bistro Salad
I think this salad has deviated from Ms. Mimi’s version… I think it’s even deviated from my own since including it in the holiday guide we offer for free download. If you have that version from the holiday guide, know that it is still one I happily stand by, as is this.
Use the one that gives your fancy the strongest tickle.
Serves: roughly 8 as a side
Chef level: easy
- 4 medium beets, cooked, peeled, and thinly sliced
- ½ large head red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 radicchio, sliced
- ½ large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp white sugar
- Seeds from 1 large pomegranate
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
- 1 Tbsp. drained capers
- A lot of fresh dill
- 2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- ½ Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 clove of garlic, lightly crushed but still intact
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
How to Make It:
- Slice the red onion and place in a bowl. Mix in sugar (this helps tame some of the harsh bite of the onion) and set aside.
- In a mixing jar, add the garlic clove, salt and the two vinegars. Swirl to combine and set aside to allow the salt to dissolve and the garlic to infuse the vinegar.
- Assemble the rest of the salad: in a large mixing bowl, add the rest of the vegetables, capers, pomegranate arils, and the pumpkin seeds. Using scissors, liberally cut the bunch of dill into the salad, using as much as you would like.
- After about 10-20 minutes (or whenever you're done cutting up the salad) remove the garlic clove from the vinegar and discard. Pour in the extra virgin olive oil. Tightly seal the lid and shake like a maniac to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, test for salt, and cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Tips for Success:
- I am never bothered by stained hands from peeling and chopping beets, but if you are wear gloves.
- I am bothered by staining my wood cutting boards, so I lay down a layer of parchment of plastic wrap to peel and cut the beets to catch the drips.
- Like everything in life, i think fresh is best so I peel the pomegranate a la minute. It's not hard, as I have shown on my Instagram, you simply cut the pom in half and holding the cut end over a bowl, "spank" the round, pom peel with the back of the spoon so let the arils fall out.
- This salad is hearty enough to last a day or two in the fridge, and just gets better with time. An excellent option for a harried host during dinner party season.
I seriously doubt you are eating this salad alone (though I have and have no regrets.) However, should this be the only thing on your plate, consider pairing a dry and crisp Pinot Blanc from Alsace or Grüner Veltliner from Austria to work with the earthy notes of the vegetables and the bright zing of the vinaigrette.