This recipe is an adaptation of Geoffrey Zakarian’s Smashed Cucumber and Green Apple Salad.Geoffrey is a co-host on The Kitchen on Food Network on Saturday mornings, as well as being an Iron Chef. Recently he prepared a pesto-rubbed baked salmon along with his Smashed Cucumber and Green Apple Salad. The salad looked really good and appeared to be Whole30 Compliant, so I made a batch of it the same day. I ended up taking this salad as a side dish for lunch several times the following week and some days I added cut up chicken and made it an entrée portion instead. Frankly, I was surprised that I didn’t tire of the salad as I basically had a portion of it at one of my meals each day. To my version I have added pomegranate seeds, avocado, touch of cilantro, and diced chicken if the salad is my entrée. This recipe is light, refreshing, filling, and has just the right mix of sweet and sour flavors (sweetness comes from the dates). Two things I think are important: I made this salad the first time by pulling apart the pomegranate and removing the seeds myself – next time I just bought the plastic container that has seeds and juice, which I found to be a mistake, as they had no flavor at all (besides being very expensive). So de-seed the fruit yourself if you want your salad to be packed with flavor. As to the avocado: I alternated with how I used the avocado and liked it both ways. First option was adding it to the salad, which was wonderful. Second method was to make a salad dressing in the blender using 1/2 avocado, the olive oil and lemon juice – this produced a really creamy flavorful salad dressing. Any way you make it this salad is a winner AND Whole30 Compliant. Would be a nice addition to any holiday dinner!
2 granny smith apples, diced
1 seedless English cucumber, diced
1/4 cup chopped pitted Medjool dates (about 8)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (Trader Joe’s sells them already toasted)
3 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbls of lemon juice
Seeds from 1/2 large pomegranate
1/2 avocado diced
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup skinless chicken, chopped in big chunks (optional)
Few leaves of cilantro, roughly chopped
1. Prep the fruit first: Wash and peel the cucumber (leaving a few very thin stripes) and dice into1/2″ pieces. Wash and dice the apples (leave skin on). Halve the pomegranate and pull out the seeds. Remove pit from dates and dice.
2. In medium bowl add cucumber, apples, pomegranate seeds, dates, and avocado. Mix lemon juice and olive oil together and pour over fruit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cilantro and pine nuts.
This recipe takes about 15 minute to prepare. You can eat right after preparing, but if you refrigerate it for 3 or 4 hours, the flavors really meld and intensify. Worth the wait!
Yield: 8 to 10 portions (1/2 cup each serving)