Christmas Eve Salad

Ensalada de Noche Buena

This is a salad that I have been served all over Mexico and in Mexican American homes in the U.S.. The deep red beets and the icy crisp white of jicama are about the only constant in the hundreds of versions of this colorful holiday salad. It is perfect for a Christmas buffet with sliced turkey or ham. I always buy my pomegranates in the fall and store them in the lower part of the refrigerator until Christmas.

  • 6 small beets, cooked, peeled and diced
  • 3 crisp apples, peeled and diced
  • 3 oranges, peeled, sectioned, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium-size jicama, peeled and cut into matchstick strips
  • 1 cup shelled roasted unsalted peanuts coarsely chopped
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate (see note)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of fruit juice

For the Garnish

  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts or pine nuts
  • seeds from 2 pomegranates (see note)

In a large bowl, mix together the beets, apples, oranges, jicama and peanuts.

Put the seeds of 1 pomegranate in a blender with the 1/2 cup of sour cream or yogurt, 4 tablespoons of sugar and the 1/2 cup of fruit juice. Process until it is a thick puree. Add to the salad and mix well. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour.

Toss again before serving and garnish with the nuts and pomegranate seeds.

NOTE: The tart ruby red seeds of the pomegranate are prized throughout Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, but in the New World it is only in Mexico and the Southern Hemisphere that they are used in any abundance, especially as a garnish. Available in the late summer and fall, they will keep for three or four months if kept dry in the lower part of the refrigerator. When you are ready to use the pomegranates, score the leathery skin in four parts from top to bottom, taking care not to cut into any of the seeds. Break through each cut and bend back the rind, exposing the many seeds, which are easily removed. Extra seeds can be tightly sealed and frozen for later use.

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