Maybe your usual salad routine involves a bowlful of lettuce with tomatoes and cucumbers. And maybe you’re comfortable with that routine, and it happens once a week, or even every day.
Suddenly opting to put something like granola on top of your greens would be an example of breaking tradition, in this case. And breaking tradition can be scary.
Changing things up involves risk, inviting wonderful possibilities while leaving the door open to possible disappointment as well. You’re effectively saying, in spite of all the comfort and security of what was, that you’re willing to welcome what could be.
That’s one reason why I recommend making a salad like this one, with fruit and savory granola on top.
It forces you to give something new a chance, taking a step to move forward into the unknown. This concept as it relates to food holds the same undeniable power shared by all creative ventures.
When I feel that I want to stay in my personal ruts and traditions, never questioning what’s routine, I find it’s a surefire recipe for disappointment. The world changes, after all, whether we like it or not.
When you’re comfortable in a certain place in life, branching out to try a new thing can feel daunting, even if it’s just a new food or recipe. Change invites the unknown.
But it can be so worth it.
So, here’s what I did. I started with an idea: salad with savory granola.
I had this vague memory of greens served with granola on top that I ate at a restaurant once. I don’t know exactly when or where, but I do remember that I loved it. I also read something in Bon Appetit magazine about how granola with fresh vegetables and dressing is a new restaurant trend – or, at least it was a new restaurant trend when that article was published.
I brainstormed ideas, and browsed my lettuce options at the store. I picked up some things that looked good, having fun in the produce section and exploring the cheese aisle.
What evolved was a combination far removed from my usual salad routine, a combination of leafy greens like arugula, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, mandarin oranges, and savory granola clusters, with a lemony dressing to bring the whole thing together.
It’s a dish that I’ve enjoyed three times in the last week, completely its own, a “new thing” that looks so different from the combinations of leafy greens and other ingredients topped with dressing that I usually partake in.
Adding granola to a salad may not be as pivotal or as inspiring as starting a creative project in other areas of one’s life. Mixing up one’s salad routine may not be as transformative as a geographic relocation or a job change. But because pushing away from the expected moves us towards new possibilities into what could be, it’s always an important step, no matter how small.
Making this salad with granola may not change your life, but then again, it may. Trying something new in the kitchen may be an inconsequential detail of your day, or it may be the first link in a long chain of change.
Who can resist when you think of it this way? Receptive to possibility, who wouldn’t want to push the door ahead of you open just a little wider, just a little more bravely, to see what it brings?
Think of enjoying savory granola in a salad as a crunchy, nutty alternative to croutons, and an easy, foolproof way to add nuts and grains to your quick and healthy lunch or side dish.
In this recipe, the homemade granola clusters add texture and a savory, herby, slightly spicy flavor with a touch of sweetness, a welcome complement to the dressed greens, fresh fruit, and creamy goat cheese.
After you’ve tried the recipe below, feel free to give it another spin and make it your own. The beauty of salads like this is that you can tinker with the proportions of the ingredients or swap different elements in or out to meet your personal taste preferences.
Any variety of light greens would work here, so feel free to mix things up. You could use dried cranberries or raisins instead of the pomegranate seeds if your pantry is stocked with dried fruit, or you’ve been experimenting with your food dehydrator.
You could also go with feta instead of goat cheese, or something more rich and pungent like gorgonzola. Instead of mandarin oranges, you could use sliced or segmented Navels, blood oranges, or grapefruit. Or to avoid citrus altogether, why not try strawberries or peaches?
Have fun with it! And enjoy the possibilities.Print
A beautiful balance of leafy greens, sweet and bright fruit, creamy goat cheese, and crunchy sumac-laced granola, this is a salad to savor.
- Zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 ounces mixed greens, such as arugula, spinach, and baby romaine (about 4 cups, packed)
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
- 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup Savory Granola
- Whisk together the lemon zest and juice, maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a large salad bowl. Whisking as you pour, stream in the olive oil and stir until the dressing is fully combined.
- Add the greens, pomegranate seeds, oranges, and goat cheese. Toss to combine. Season to taste with additional salt, and then divide among bowls.
- Garnish with savory granola and additional freshly cracked pepper if desired before serving.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Salads
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keywords: lemon, arugula, granola, pomegranate
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Make the Dressing
Zest and juice the lemon.
Whisking as you pour, slowly stream in the olive oil and continue whisking until the dressing is fully combined and emulsified.
Honey or agave syrup can be used in place of the maple syrup if you prefer.
Step 2 – Prep the Fruit
If you’re prepping the pomegranate from scratch, instead of buying the seeds pre-packaged, refer to our guide for tips. Peel and section the mandarin oranges with your fingers.
If you didn’t buy pre-crumbled goat cheese, now would be the time to crumble it.
Step 3 – Toss the Salad and Serve
Add the greens, pomegranate seeds, orange segments, and crumbled goat cheese to the salad bowl and toss to combine.
Season to taste with additional salt, and then divide among bowls. Top with savory granola and additional freshly cracked pepper if desired before serving.
If you prefer to toss some of the granola with the greens, just make sure you serve the salad immediately, as the granola will get soggy and the greens will wilt if it sits for too long.
Choose any variety of your favorite greens! I love the combo of arugula, spinach, and romaine, but consider adding some frisee for a bit of a bitter edge!
Lots of Lemony Love
Let’s be honest: It’s the loads of lemony zing that lift these greens above the rest.
Not only does the lemon zest and juice in the dressing bring an intense punch to the party, but the hint of sumac in the homemade savory granola keeps that citrusy flavor running through every bite.
Since this bright salad offers plenty of acidity and freshness, it makes an ideal partner for a rich, hearty comfort food entree, like this rustic steak pizzaiola.
Keep your salad game going strong with these other recipes that make meeting your greens and fruit quotas a delicious joy rather than a daunting task:
- Pear and Arugula with Maple Vinaigrette and Creamy Fried Goat Cheese
- Triple Berry with Sauteed Shallots and Walnuts in a Cayenne-Honey Vinaigrette
- Satsuma, Red Onion, and Pomegranate
If I had anything to add, a savory, pungent note would add an extra layer of dimension and balance the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and oranges. I vote for crispy fried shallot rings.
What will you reach for? Share your suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 1, 2016. Last updated on October 4, 2021. With additional writing and editing by Fanny Slater and Allison Sidhu.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.