Christmas tree salad with kombucha dressing

It's FINALLY my last day of class for the semester! Just two finals between me and a few weeks of vacation in California. After that, just one more semester of classes to go, then two more internships and a few months of master's paper writing... 1 year from now I'll officially be McKenzie Caldwell, MPH (with the RD coming after I take the national exam)!! Seriously, I love learning, but I'm at the point where I want to be out of the classroom for good. All I want to do is work and write blog posts :) So, that's why your getting two blog posts from me in two weeks! *gasp* It's been a bit since I posted a salad recipe. I've been eating mostly cooked veggies at home, and fixing my fresh veggie cravings with a big bowl o' greens at Weaver Street Market, my favorite pit stop (yes, ok I know that you know, but like, I love that place). This week, I decided to change it up and make a festive veggie creation for the holiday season. Speaking of Weaver...I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do until I came across these BEAUTIFUL multicolored mini tomatoes on my last grocery trip.

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So cute, right??

The other reason I decided to go the salad route was because I used some of my home-brewed kombucha to make a salad dressing. I had let it ferment a bit too long, so it was very vinegary. I mixed it with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and Dijon mustard to get the perfect tang.

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Diet culture has stolen salad and made it the face of restrictive eating, but I say it's time we take it back, add some awesome toppings, and make it our own! The key to a delicious and satisfying salad is to mix up your flavors, textures, and colors, and include some carbs and protein to round it out. There's some fat in the dressing, but don't be afraid of adding more fat-containing foods, as fat will help you absorb a bunch of the nutrients from fruits the veggies! Also, fat makes food taste dang good.

In this salad, we're going with the Christmas tree theme -- tis the season! My protein foods that also have fat were some unsalted, not-chocolatey trail mix for crunch, and shredded white cheddar cheese for the creamy factor. I went with unsalted nuts because I'm not a fan of super salty foods, and there's already salt in the dressing, cheese, and squash. My carbs included Trader Joe's butternut squash zig-zags that I had roasted the night before with olive oil, salt, and pepper, as well as some brightly flavored, juicy pomegranate seeds.

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Aren't pomegranate seeds just so cute? I think they look exactly like little tree lights. They're also in season during the winter! Here's a good tutorial on how to easily get the seeds out of a whole pomegranate, but you can sometimes find just the seeds in a refrigerated container in the produce section.

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Ok, so now to assemble our tree! I found some awesome mixed baby greens, tossed a few handfuls with a tablespoon or two of dressing, and went at it with my tomato ornaments, pomegranate lights, and other tree decorations.

My aunt is usually in charge of salad to go with our traditional lasagna dinner for Christmas, but I think I might have to take over this year ;)

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Get creative with other toppings or different cheeses, and let me know how you decorated your Christmas tree salad in the comments below.

Happy Holidays!!

Christmas Tree Salad with Kombucha Dressing

A merry salad with bright flavors and a tangy probiotic dressing.

Makes: as much as 1 1/4 cups dressing will make

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • For the dressing: 1/2 cup raw, unflavored kombucha
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • For the salad: Mixed baby greens, washed
  • Assorted colors of grape, cherry and other mini tomatoes, halved
  • Butternut squash, cut in zig-zags, matchsticks, or diced
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Unsalted trail mix without chocolate
  • White cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:
  1. Some hours before serving, or the night before, cut butternut squash and roast with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper at 400 F for 10 minutes. Cool completely to room temperature and refrigerate until cold.
  2. Vigorously whisk together salad dressing ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Toss together greens and dressing, with approximately 1 tablespoon dressing per cup of greens. Keep it light, and reserve extra dressing so more can be added to each serving of salad as desired.
  4. Add desired amount of tomatoes, butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, trail mix, and cheddar cheese and lightly toss with the greens, or place toppings in serving dishes and allow each person to decorate their own salad tree.
  5. Serve cold as an appetizer, light lunch, or side dish.