Bowl of apple pomegranate harvest salad packed with antioxidant benefits

Apple Pomegranate Harvest Salad: Fall Delight

By: Mia Syn, MS, RDN

Celebrate the sweet, crisp flavors of autumn with the ultimate fall harvest salad recipe. This delicious salad features in-season produce, such as chopped, roasted and caramelized sweet potato, pomegranate and crisp apple slices with a tangy apple cider vinaigrette dressing. This recipe can be served as a side dish or enjoyed as an entrée with the addition of lean protein like chicken or tempeh.

What is a harvest salad?

A fall harvest salad recipe features seasonal produce as the star. In-season produce is not only at its nutritional peak, it typically tastes better than out-of-season produce and is more affordable.

Which apple is best for a salad?

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t just a catchy phrase, but one also backed by science. Apples are high in quercetin and other potent phytonutrients that help promote immune health and cardiovascular health and support already-healthy cholesterol levels. Some studies even suggest eating this fruit can help maintain cognitive health.

While there are over 7,500 types of apples, certain ones are more heavily produced than others, so they are generally more available in stores. Popular varieties in the United States include Gala, Pink Lady, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Honeycrisp.

Not all of these varieties are created equal when it comes to color, taste, nutrition and recipe application. Honeycrisp apples have a crisp, sweet flesh and are best enjoyed right after harvest because they do not store well. This makes them a great addition to an apple harvest salad. On the other hand, Golden Delicious and yellow-green Mutsu apples are good for cooking and baking, and they have a longer storage life.

What is apple pomegranate?

Apple pomegranate is a combination of fruit ingredients and flavors that truly capture the fall season, as both fruits peak during that time. In fact, pomegranate, also known as a Chinese apple, means “seeded apple.” In many cultures, the fruit symbolizes prosperity and fertility.

Health benefits of pomegranate

While many fall harvest salads feature dried cranberry for a pop of sweetness, this recipe uses fresh pomegranate.

Pomegranate seeds, or arils, may be small in size, but they pack a major nutritional punch. They provide key nutrients, including fiber, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium.

These small seeds are particularly known for their high level of antioxidants, including vitamin C, and the plant compounds quercetin and anthocyanins, which help protect cells from oxidative stress.

Pomegranates also support cardiovascular health, and certain polyphenols from this fruit can be metabolized by gut microbes to produce urolithin A, which helps promote mitochondrial health.

How to make apple and pomegranate harvest salad

In this recipe, pecans add nutrient-dense crunch in lieu of croutons. Pecans are a source of good fats and plant protein, and they provide key nutrients, including B vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and fat-soluble vitamins E and A.

This recipe is highly customizable using ingredients you have on hand, and we’ve included several recommended ingredient swaps to make this salad your best ever.

Short on time but want to reap the benefits of these flavorful fall ingredients? Try our similar Spinach, Pomegranate & Walnut Salad recipe made with just five ingredients. It includes a two-ingredient vinaigrette dressing made with California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil and balsamic vinegar.

Apple Pomegranate Harvest Salad

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

For the sweet potatoes:
2 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon water

For the Salad:

Arils from 1 pomegranate
4 Persian cucumbers
2 Honeycrisp apples (or variety of choice)
1/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese, blue cheese or goat cheese
6 cups kale
¼ cup candied pecans or raw pecans

For the Apple Cider Vinaigrette Dressing

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 garlic clove minced
½ teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Peel sweet potatoes and chop into ½-inch cubes.
  2. Place sweet potatoes, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and water in a large skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the potatoes are tender, golden and caramelized, about 4 minutes. Place caramelized potatoes in a large bowl.
  4. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces, wash and dry using a salad spinner. Place the lettuce in the large bowl with the roasted potatoes.
  5. Thinly slice the apples and chop the cucumber into bite-sized pieces. Place in the bowl with the lettuce and potatoes. Add the pomegranate arils, cheese and pecans.
  6. In a small bowl, make the vinaigrette dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, black pepper and salt until combined.
  7. Store leftovers in an airtight container and enjoy within 1-2 days. Store the vinaigrette dressing separately to prevent the salad from getting soggy.

Nutritional Values per serving:

Calories: 394
Carbohydrates: 61 g
Protein: 16 g
Fat: 6 g

Tips:

  • To turn this side dish into an entrée recipe, consider adding a lean protein like grilled chicken, chickpeas or tempeh to your salad boost the staying power.
  • To make this recipe dairy-free, you can omit the Feta, blue cheese or goat cheese.
  • While this recipe calls for a kale base, you can use any leafy green lettuce you have on hand, such as spinach or arugula.
  • You can also use walnuts in place of pecans, butternut squash in place of sweet potato, and dried cranberry in place of pomegranate, if desired. Cranberry is also a good source of fiber and antioxidants like vitamin C. Butternut squash is another in-season vegetable, and it is slightly lower in calories and carbohydrates than sweet potato by weight.
  • You can also make a batch of this salad dressing to incorporate into salads throughout the week or use as a marinade for lean proteins.

Do I get enough pomegranate from an apple harvest salad?

Each serving of this recipe incorporates a fourth of a pomegranate. This amount will help you meet 8% of your total daily vitamin C, 5% of your potassium and about 10% of your total daily fiber needs. For greater benefit, incorporate this fruit into additional meals and snacks throughout the day.

Pomegranate supplements

Since pomegranates are a seasonal fruit, it’s difficult to reap their benefits all year long. Additionally, many of their health benefits are observed when consumed in large amounts.

Life Extension’s Pomegranate Complete combines highly standardized pomegranate fruit extracts, flowers and seed oil to create a comprehensive superfood health supplement. One serving contains the equivalent polyphenol content of about 12 ounces of pomegranate juice.

Because the entire plant is utilized, this formula offers a broad range of health benefits, including helping to maintain already-healthy blood pressure, promote heart health, inhibit oxidative stress and promote a healthy inflammatory response.

Other nutrients, such as probiotics, CoQ10, and more also support heart health. If you are wondering how best to support your hardest-working organ, take a heart health supplement quiz to discover the best nutrition for you.

About the Author: Mia Syn, MS, RD is a national on-air nutrition expert, host of Good Food Friday on ABC Charleston and one of the most recognized and trusted young dietitians in the media. With a master's degree in human nutrition from Columbia University and over 500 TV appearances, she has helped millions of viewers, readers and clients learn and implement healthier, sustainable eating habits. NutritionbyMia.com

References:

Scientifically Reviewed By: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N

By: Mia Syn, MS, RDN