Pomegranate-Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

Posted by on Nov 12, 2011 in Musings, Recipes | 3 comments

Winter Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Salads have a bad reputation with wine.

Showing up at a meal overdressed and acidic, like some people I know, they can kill a wine and a good meal in no time flat.

While I love a sharp, tangy vinaigrette on a crisp green salad, it’s just this combo that can strip a wine of its flavor. Lettuce alone doesn’t seem to have enough umami oomph to balance the acidity of a vinegary dressing. And what I’ve learned is that for wine to really work with food, the acid and salt tastes need to balanced with the umami and sweet tastes in a dish. And vice versa. So what does that mean? Should you never have salad and wine together?

For me, I now save my salad to have with some cheese, which can often provide a good balance for the wine. Or, I might choose to enjoy the salad on its own, saving the wine for a more savory course.

At this time of year, I often make salads with the bitter winter lettuces, like escarole, endive or frisee, adding a shaving of pear or a few ruby pomegranate seeds. Toasted fresh walnuts and crumbles of blue cheese or feta add another layer of flavor and umami boost. For the vinaigrette, I use verjus instead of vinegar, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Each of these ingredients adds acidity and brightness, but a softer edge to the dressing, making it more wine-friendly. I also love this vinaigrette on a salad of mixed whole grains, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate-Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
(makes ½ cup)

2 small shallots, finely minced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
3 tablespoons red verjus
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons walnut oil
3 tablespoons pure olive oil
a few grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine the shallots, verjus, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together to combine, then let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Combine the walnut and olive oils in a glass measuring cup. Whisk the oil slowly into the shallot-verjus mixture until the vinaigrette has emulsified and thickened. Whisk in the fresh ground black pepper.



  1. Oh. My. This looks incredible.

    You really hit it on the head with the acidity/wine comment. We drink a lot of wine in Paso Robles and bottle lots of walnut oil, so I’ll have to test this out at one of our next dinner parties.

    I can’t help myself – I’m going to have to share this with our fans!


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