With its incredibly festive appearance, this pomegranate salsa is like the holidays in a bowl!
It makes a wonderful Christmas appetizer paired with chips but can also be used atop meats or paired with tacos for a bright and fresh approach to the winter season.
No matter which way you serve it, pomegranate salsa will be a hit with its bright bold flavors and beautiful colors.
Every year, I excitedly await the arrival of pomegranates in the grocery store.
Along with persimmons, their appearance is one of the best parts of the winter season when it comes to fruit.
In contrast to the sweet, candy-like taste of persimmons though, pomegranate’s bright, tart and slightly sweet flavor along with the fun “crunchy” texture of each aril makes it one of my favorite ingredients to liven up recipes.
From pomegranate oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to pomegranate popcorn and even savory dishes like balsamic pomegranate flank steak, they’re just such a welcome addition to heavier, comfort food recipes this time of year.
This year, with this pomegranate salsa, I’m focusing on a fun, incredibly festive option for any holiday party.
FRESH AND FESTIVE POMEGRANATE SALSA
The salsa makes an excellent addition to any appetizer spread.
It’s the perfect thing to serve with tortilla chips or crackers and a refreshing deviation from the typical fare.
Bright pomegranate arils bring a tart sweetness to each bite while cucumber, red onion and a touch of spicy jalapeño round out the rest of the salsa ingredients.
Fresh cilantro and mint are coupled with a honey lime dressing that makes each bite a delicious, lively explosion of flavor.
And if that description isn’t enough to woo you, hopefully the vibrant festively appropriate colors will!
I made this sweet potato salsa years ago which also uses some pomegranate arils along with blackberries and I love that recipe too. It’s a little heartier thanks to the sweet potato but both of these salsas are just so fun for a seasonal switch!
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE POMEGRANATE SALSA
One of the best things about this winter salsa is the simple ingredient list.
- pomegranate arils (from about 2 large pomegranates)
- cucumber (I like to buy seedless English cucumber for this)
- red onion
- fresh cilantro
- fresh mint
- extra virgin olive oil
- lime juice
- raw honey
- salt and pepper
For the pomegranate arils, you have two choices: seed the arils yourself from two large pomegranates or, buy the arils in the refrigerated section of the grocery store already seeded.
Seeding the pomegranates yourself is obviously more cost effective but will take a solid 20-25 minutes to do.
There will also likely be pomegranate juice in places you didn’t think it could possibly reach in your kitchen because that’s just the nature of pomegranate seeding.
Buying the arils themselves is definitely much easier but I’m usually so turned off by the exorbitant price that I suck it up, buy whole pomegranates and just do it myself.
When I’m only using a small amount of pomegranate (like adding it to this holiday butternut squash hummus), I’ll sometimes cave and just buy the pre-seeded arils for ease.
Up to you and the time you have on hand to prepare the salsa!
HOW TO MAKE THIS POMEGRANATE SALSA RECIPE
Combine the pomegranate, cucumber, red onion, jalapeño and minced herbs in a large bowl.
In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, fresh lime juice and honey.
Pour the dressing over the salsa and gently toss to combine.
Season the salsa with salt and pepper to taste.
SEEDING A POMEGRANATE
I won’t get into the details of the best way to seed a pomegranate. There are plenty of resources already out there that address this question and you likely have a method you prefer.
I’ve done both of these and every other approach in between at this point and honestly can’t say any method trumps another in a significant way.
So chose whatever speaks to you and just get those seeds out!
I do recommend wearing an apron or at least dark colored clothing while doing so to avoid stains.
SERVING FRESH POMEGRANATE SALSA
If you’re making this recipe to serve as an appetizer at a holiday party or any other gathering, it’s wonderful paired with tortilla chips or any cracker of choice.
For gluten-free eaters, try some homemade almond pulp crackers or something like Siete chips or the Trader Joe’s copycat, their cassava tortilla chips.
For low-carb eaters, the salsa can even be enjoyed with some cucumber slices.
Alternatively, this salsa makes an excellent flavorful and vibrant topping to any cooked meat or seafood.
Try it atop a simple pork chop, a grilled steak, or any fish.
It’d be perfect on this sablefish instead of the salsa in that recipe too.
And lastly, you can use pomegranate salsa as a seasonal pico de gallo in tacos!
SUBSTITUTIONS AND SWAPS
JALAPEÑO – This recipe uses one small seeded jalapeño for a touch of spice in the salsa.
If you prefer no heat at all, omit the pepper completely. If more heat is preferred, add another, use a larger pepper or leave the seeds intact.
I find one small jalapeño to be the perfect balance. Its heat is tamed nicely by the sweetness of the pomegranates and honey and the freshness of the herbs.
AVOCADO – For some added satiety, finely chop a ripe avocado into the salsa.
Like in this avocado lentil cranberry salad, it adds a nice creaminess to the tart pomegranates and lime juice.
TOMATOES – If you’re a purist and need tomatoes in your salsa, feel free to add some finely chopped tomatoes to the mix too.
I prefer this salsa without them. Letting the pomegranates shine as the tomato replacement is really what this salsa is all about!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF POMEGRANATES
Pomegranates are one of the most well known “superfoods” of the winter season.
Packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin K, they’ve been touted as having impressive anti-inflammatory effects cancer protecting properties.
Some claim them to be among the “healthiest foods on earth” and their notoriety is right up there with turmeric.
All this makes for an incredibly healthy salsa recipe!
Enjoying this pomegranate salsa is not only delicious and festive, it’s highly nutritious and good for you too so dig in!
The holiday season is all about enjoying friends, family and quality time together. The best way I know how to do that is through food!
Hopefully this salsa gives you a simple yet elegant way to do that with your holiday spreads!
MORE HOLIDAY WORTHY APPETIZERS TO TRY:
- 2 cups pomegranate arils from about 2 pomegranates
- 1 cup finely chopped cucumber
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 small jalapeño seeded and minced
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro and mint leaves minced
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon raw honey
- salt and pepper
- Combine the pomegranate, cucumber, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro and mint in a large bowl.
- Whisk the lime juice, olive oil and honey together in a separate small bowl.
- Pour the honey lime dressing over the salsa and gently toss until well combined.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.