White Salad with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts

20150109_BlogWhiteSaladwithPom-118

I don’t remember the first time I met Ashley Rodriquez, which in my experience is often the case with friendships that begin online and soon blossom to actual friendship. When I lived in San Francisco, I started reading Ashley’s beautiful blog Not Without Salt and when I moved to Seattle a few years ago, we had the opportunity to actually grab coffee and share meals in person. She’s someone I feel I’ve known for a long time, and I’ve been so looking forward to her first cookbook, Date Night In. I tested a few of the recipes for the book, and knew it was going to be filled with dozens more that I was excited to make. What I didn’t expect was the rich narrative, detailing the challenges and joys of marriage and how Ashley and Gabe navigate having three young kids, vibrant careers and a romantic home life together (and if you know them personally, they do it with admirable style).

White Salad with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts | A Sweet Spoonful

On my first read of the book, I noted recipes I wanted to come back to and others I wanted to try right away, and then I got sucked into the storytelling. The basic premise is that, with three young kids at home, it became unrealistic to go out on dates with any sort of frequency and Ashley and Gabe were finding the time they spent at home together to sort of pass by, in a blur of nighttime computer use or resting after a long day. So they set aside a weekly date night in which, after the kids are put down to bed, Gabe makes a cocktail and Ashley cooks a meal (they’ve concluded that Ashley is a better cook, and are both happier when she’s the one at the helm).

White Salad with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts

While my home life with Sam looks much different as we don’t have young kids, I think the wonderful thing about this book is that it reinforces how important it is to set aside a deliberate chunk of time to spend together. Something to ground you as a couple. We discussed this right after we returned from our honeymoon: after a whirlwind many months of nighttime wedding planning and then a trip to Italy and Morocco that was packed with new sights and places and food — we came home and found ourselves spending evenings on our couch, eating something easy and quick we’d thrown together and often watching a movie or a show. One night we both looked at each other with an “Is this it?” look. It was almost as if, after all of those months of intense excitement and newness, we’d forgotten how to just be at home together on a normal old Wednesday night with leftover chicken and kale salad.

I mention this because I’m inspired by Ashley and Gabe’s deliberate move to figure out a way to focus on their relationship despite all of the little things that so often get in the way, and I think we can all aspire to this — whether it looks like actual Date Night dinners or simply scheduled walks around the neighborhood to get a coffee. I started to think about other ways this could take shape this morning as I chopped and sliced and whisked, and I think the key is being generous and easy with ourselves while still holding expectations for ourselves and our partner. In truth, most nights around here are going to look like simple dinners spent together catching up on our workday. Sam always makes me a cocktail, and I have a New Year’s resolution to read more so I’ve been trying to get in a little bit of that, too. Winters in Seattle are quite dark, so when I start to feel a bit down about the shortness of the days, I look ahead to July and August and September when we’re eating outside and lingering until 10 p.m. with fresh corn and tomatoes and homemade ice cream.  There’s no fixed way to be together, and I guess if there were things would start to feel pretty dull. I’ll take the nights of leftover chicken balanced nicely with more planned, special evenings in, too. The best we can all do is strive for a good balance. I think Ashley would agree.

White Salad with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts

White Salad with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts
This is the perfect winter salad — bright and fresh with sweet bites of pomegranate contrasted with slightly salty bits of cheese and tart apple. If you’ve never purchased or used celeriac before, it’s not the prettiest root vegetable, but it’s relatively easy to peel and slice right away. And if you want to save yourself a bit of time, a mandolin is really helpful in making the matchbox slices for this salad. Ashley’s recipe did not call for hazelnuts, but I thought they’d add a nice crunch; feel free to use another nut or seed if you’d prefer.

Ever so slightly adapted from: Date Night In

Serves: 2

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces (60g) celeriac (celery root), cut into matchsticks (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 tart apple, cut into matchsticks, about 3/4 cup
1/4 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 small leek, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only) (about 1/4 cup)
2 ounces (60g) aged white Cheddar, cut into matchsticks or tiny cubes, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup (10g) pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup (30g) roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (see note)
flake salt, for finishing
freshly ground black pepper, for finishing

In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Add the celeriac, apple, fennel, leek and Cheddar. Toss well to combine. Transfer to a serving dish and finish with pomegranate seeds, hazelnuts flake salt, and freshly ground black pepper. The salad can be made 4 to 6 hours ahead and store, covered in the refrigerator.

Note: For help or instructions on roasting nuts, I like this tutorial.

Comments

  1. June Burns

    Such a gorgeous salad! Love the addition of pomegranates, they are like little edible jewels. :)

  2. Alice o

    First ingredient lemon juice?
    It takes a village;)

  3. Alice o

    Great looking salad for winter months!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  4. rebecca

    lovely salad and me and my hubby need to do this more

  5. Kate

    I'm so excited to get my hands on this book! Like you, we don't yet have young children, but I can still appreciate the sentiment of taking time out with each other. I love your reading resolution for the new year too - it's so much better to do something positive like read more than to try and give things up!

  6. Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table

    Lovely, lovely insights. I find that in my couple, we often get sucked into the same comforting routines... And you're absolutely right that it's crucial to find ways to break the cycle. Sometimes, it's as easy as trying to eat dinner in another room (how about a fun picnic on the living room floor, with candles and checkered tablecloth as your blanket? how about breakfast in bed with all the trimmings?) and others times, you need to physically get out of your comfort zone (ie, your house), and, as you said, walk around. So whether you make this salad for date night, or just scramble some eggs, I hope that married life is full of nights of togetherness for you both!

    1. megang

      Hi, Ksenia- You are so right about physically breaking out of your comfort zone. I find this even when in a funk working from home; if I get out even for a ten minute walk, I feel really invigorated. Thank you so much to take the time to leave the sweet comment (and who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?) Happy Friday, ~Megan

  7. Abby

    Looks like a lovely cookbook and a delicious salad. Like you, we got married recently and are still trying to figure out a balance between relaxing/vegging out in the evenings and spending purposeful time together. Taking walks together a few days a week has really worked for us. We don't go anywhere in particular, but it's so nice to chat and see where our conversation goes while we get some exercise.

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