Winter Salad that Meets the Challenge

Winter Salad that Meets the Challenge

Winter salads can taste a little lackluster, we know. But colder months provide an opportunity to create pairings with dried fruits and nuts that sing differently but still shine in composed salads bursting with warm flavors and colors.

In honor of Tu B’shvat, the start of spring in Israel, it’s traditional to consider the seven ingredients mentioned most frequently in the Bible (Deut. 8:8) as inspiration for at least one holiday dish.

The seven species are figs, grapes, pomegranates, olives, dates, wheat and barley.

Do they seem too disparate to throw together in one dish?

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

We were inspired to combine pan-seared figs, pomegranates, olives (oil) and dates (as silan, actually date honey) in one salad. Channeling other ingredients and flavors from Israel, we sought out halloumi cheese, a salty and firm cheese, best when browned in a bit of butter. Harissa ties the sweet and savory elements all together. And since we love pistachios anywhere and always, we thought they would look and taste great dusted over the whole shebang.

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Celebrate Tu B’shvat from sunset 1/24- sunset 1/25 this year. For more on this holiday and the symbolism associated with each of the seven ingredients, click here.

For past posts including why this holiday is called the Birthday of the Trees and how we can find signs of spring even on the coldest winter days, click here.


How do you connect these seven ingredients? Do you have recipes to share? Or ideas if you were to take this challenge?  Please share in the comments below or hop over to our facebook page to let us know there. Not friends on facebook yet?  Please be sure we are so you don’t miss a thing.


Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Winter Salad with Sauteed Haloumi Cheese, Figs and Pomegranate Arils

 This salad adds bright color and warm flavors any winter meal. We eat it in celebration of Tu B’Shvat, the holiday of the trees and the beginning of springtime in Israel. It incorporates four of the seven foods mentioned most frequently in the Bible. Add sliced grapes, a layer of cooked barley and croutons and you’ll be at 100%!

Halloumi is a salty, firm sheep’s milk cheese with a high melting point that can be browned in a pan or grilled without melting. Harissa  is a chili based Middle Eastern condiment that may be found in powdered or paste form. The heat factor varies so start with a little and taste as you go.


This recipe is vegetarian and dairy.

serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side salad




4 cups salad greens of choice

4 oz. Haloumi cheese, patted dry and sliced into 4-5 slabs

1 teaspoon butter

5 dried figs (chose plump pretty figs), sliced through the fat side

1 Tablespoon shelled pistachios

2 teaspoons pomegranate arils (seeds)

¼ teaspoon harissa seasoning (powdered spice or paste)

4 teaspoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped



 4 Tablespoons EVOO (use only very good oil here)

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (or to taste)

1 Tablespoon SILAN (date honey). Honey may be substituted

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely minced

⅛ teaspoon harissa seasoning

salt and pepper to taste


Assemble the salad:

 Wash and spin dry salad greens, leaving leaves whole. Arrange in 2-3 layers on a shallow platter.

Heat butter in a small non-stick pan and brown Haloumi cheese on both sides. Set aside.

In the same pan (no additional butter necessary) saute the figs, seed side down until golden. Set aside.

Chop or pulverize pistachios (how much texture do you want?) and toss with powdered harissa seasoning. If using harissa paste, mix the paste into the dressing and leave pistachios dry.

Distribute parsley over salad greens and top with pomegranate arils, sliced figs, Haloumi cheese, and pistachio bits.


Assemble the dressing:

 Blend all ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste.

Dress the salad and serve immediately.


Notes: All ingredients may be prepared in advance but assemble salad just before serving.

Harissa may be found as a combination of powdered spices (think CURRY) or as a paste at NY SHUK, our favorite and most authentic source.

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