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Adding seasonal fruit to winter spinach salad

It’s easy to think of salads as having as much diversity as what type of dressing you throw on top, but all salads don’t begin with butter lettuce (hint: that is more of a summer produce).

During wintertime, for example, the heartier greens are more plentiful. So think, endive and escarole. And build your salad from there. As New York City chef Carlin Greenstein explains, “If it’s summertime I might be more likely to use a butter lettuce. 

Basically I think about what green I’m using and then I build the salad around the green. Fall roasted squash on greens. Or if it’s winter sometimes I’ll do a roasted vegetable salad on greens”.

Carlin, who has put together a seasonal food wheel for residents of New York (it shows peak season and availability for locally grown produce), put together a winter spinach salad for us based on what she found at Manhattan’s Union Square farmer’s market (Greenmarket) and in her kitchen.

For visuals, see our videos Cook seasonal: a trip to the farmers market with Chef Carlin and Chef Carlin prepares a winter spinach salad.

Ingredients (salad, minus vinaigrette)

  • 1 bunch of red spinach
  • 1 persimmon
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 Bosc pear
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • handful of thyme


  1. Spread walnuts on a tray and place them in the oven for a few minutes, until lightly browned. “I prefer to do nuts in the oven than on the stovetop because it’s more uniform,” explains Carlin. “You just want them to get golden and you can smell the toasty smell that comes out, it’s lightly toasted.”
  2. Cut and de-seed pomegranate.
  3. Slice persimmon.
  4. Slice pear. She uses Bosc rather than Bartlett because it’s firmer and it stays firm when sauteed.
  5. Heat saucepan with a coating of olive oil.
  6. Once oil is hot, add thyme. The oils naturally occurring in the thyme come out in the hot oil.
  7. After a couple minutes, add the pears to the pan. Turn the stove down to medium. You don’t want to darken these, you just want to get them a little bit caramelized which means the sugars in the fruit are coming out. The pears give sweetness and a cooked element to the salad, something Carlin sees as an important addition to a fall or winter salad.

A pomegranate molasses, lemon vinaigrette

The dressing begins with lemon, a staple in Carlin’s kitchen. “I always keep lemons in the house because it’s a great last minute vinaigrette.”

Ingredients (vinaigrette)

  • 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • 2 tsps pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • pepper
  • sea salt

Directions for vinaigrette

  1. Squeeze half lemon into your hand to catch seeds.
  2. Add pomegranate molasses, olive oil, pepper and sea salt.
  3. Whisk together.
  4. Taste using a piece of spinach.

Putting it all together

  1. Add the greens to the bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.
  2. Then add the persimmon, pomegranate seeds and the pear.
  3. Sprinkle the roasted walnuts on top.