Arugula Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

I love to eat pomegranate, so I always become excited when the winter holidays roll around and pomegranates are in season. There’s a certain hidden beauty about pomegranates. When you cut through their unassuming leathery skin, luscious seeds, just waiting to explode with dark red juice, reveal themselves. I have fond childhood memories of myself spurting red juice all over the kitchen while I attempted to remove the seeds from their membrane casings. The intensity of each little pomegranate seed’s juice, followed by the crunchy inner core will forever remain one of my cherished holiday memories.

The spicy, peppery taste of the arugula pairs nicely with the sweetness of the pomegranate. If you don’t have any garlic oil on hand, don’t feel that it is absolutely necessary to run out and buy some. Making your own is ridiculously easy. All you need are 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into fourths. Heat about 1 cup of olive oil in a small butter pan on low heat. Add the garlic and allow its flavor to infuse into the oil. Make sure that you keep the flame as low as possible, or else the garlic will burn too quickly. Continue cooking the oil for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the oil to cool. Strain the oil into a glass container and toss the leftover garlic.

7 oz. baby arugula, cleaned and dried
1/2 a pomegranate
1/3 c. garlic oil
2 tsp. fig balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl. pomegranate seeds
2 Tbl. toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Remove about 2 Tbl. of the pomegranate’s seeds; set aside. In a small bowl, gently squeeze the sliced half of pomegranate, allowing the juices to flow. It’s ok if a few loose seeds fall out into the bowl as well. *Please wear an apron while squeezing the pomegranate. No matter how “careful” I think I will be, I almost always end up squirting bright red juice someplace!* Add the fig balsamic vinegar. While whisking, slowly pour the garlic oil into the bowl. When the dressing is mixed together completely, taste and adjust ingredients according to your taste. Set aside.

Place the arugula greens into a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Pour over the dressing. Toss to coat. Serve immediately. If you would like to dress up this salad even further, feel free to add some small pieces of chopped orange, or even turn the salad into a main course by including some pan fried potatoes with rosemary.

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