Borlotti bean salad with pomegranate vinaigrette is brimming with refreshing flavors and powerful nutrition. Walnuts, fresh herbs, and zesty, oil-free pomegranate vinaigrette take this power salad to the next level with refreshing flavors and powerful nutrients. Grab a fork because this tasty side salad is done in minutes.
If there is such a thing as a power salad, this easy salad is definitely a top contender. We’re talking beans for fiber, low-fat protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, and potassium.
Add to this the renowned superfood, the pomegranate. The antioxidants in those tiny, crunchy seeds, also known as arils, are so powerful that they can prevent or delay damage to our cells. They have three times as many antioxidants as green tea and red wine.
But wait, there’s more! Walnuts! Jupiter's royal acorn, according to the Romans, is a source of Omega-3. Walnuts, like sunflower seeds, have more polyunsaturated fats (good fats) compared to saturated fats.
Some early studies signal that walnuts may be an essential ingredient for cancer prevention ().
If you think that a power salad is already at the water’s edge with Borlotti beans, pomegranate, and walnuts, you could be right. But we’re building even more flavor.
So here’s the low down on what you’ll need for this easy salad.
Borlotti beans – Use 2 15-oz. (400 gm.) cans, or if you can find the dry beans, you want 3 cups of cooked beans. Other names to look for include cranberry beans or Roman beans.
If you can’t find Borlotti beans specifically, all is not lost. Pinto beans are the closest substitute, and you can’t go wrong with red kidney beans.
Red onion – I like slices of onion for this salad. Cut the onion in half from stem to bottom and then place them cut-side down and slice it thin. My personal culinary term for this is half-moons, although I seriously doubt this is a recognized term.
Celery – Celery adds crunch and natural salt to temper some of the zestier flavors.
Parsley, chives, cilantro – These are the big three of fresh herbs. Each one has its own flavor that contributes to the deliciousness of this salad. If you need to omit the cilantro (it isn’t for everyone), double the parsley. Flat-leaf (Italian) parsley is a good choice as it has less of a bite than curly parsley that can be a bit bitter.
Walnuts – Chop the walnuts a little chunky or buy walnut pieces. Walnuts are a good choice if you plan on eating this salad the next day. They hold up well to the dressing and only get slightly soggy.
Pomegranate – Getting the seeds away from the inner wall of the fruit can sometimes seem a daunting task. I’ve probably watched more videos about pomegranate deseeding than I care to admit. And I always return to the same procedure.
I cut the pomegranate in half across the middle. Then, place a bowl in the sink with a mesh colander across the top. Use both hands to break the pomegranate over the colander and start removing the seeds. I do this in the sink to cut down on the mess.
If you have a favorite way to coerce pomegranates to be more compliant, post it in the comments. We've all got our approaches, and I’d love to hear yours.
Pomegranate molasses – Yes, more zesty pomegranate flavor! If you've never tried pomegranate molasses, get ready for a new favorite!
Pomegranate molasses is a thick syrup with a dark color. You'd expect that from molasses. What you might not expect is the tangy, citrusy bite that tastes like a jolt of sweet and sour.
But seriously, stock up on pomegranate molasses if you get the opportunity. It makes delicious salad dressings and adds a hit of sour flavor with a hint of sweetness.
Lime juice – You really need a bit of citrus to balance the sweetness of the pomegranate molasses. Lime juice has an ulterior motive in keeping the herbs and other salad ingredients fresh as the salad sits. Like it’s going to sit that long (ha).
Garlic – Add 1 clove of minced or pressed garlic for a bit of kick to temper all the sweet and sour flavors.
Ancho chili flakes – Mild, sweet-tasting ancho chili flakes from dried poblano chilis add a bit of mellow spiciness. Ancho chili flakes are chewy and more substantive than the brighter red chili flakes that you might have in the big jar in your cupboard. No worries if you can’t find them. Use Aleppo pepper or ½ a teaspoon of red chili flakes. Add more if you want it spicier.
It’s all a habit with no requirement, but I always start this salad by making the dressing. It takes about 2 minutes and allows the chili flakes to soften and the flavors to build.
You also have an opportunity to taste the dressing and add more garlic and adjust the ingredients according to your taste. If you find the salad dressing too sour, add date paste or another liquid sweetener. Start with ½ a teaspoon and adjust from there.
There really aren’t any rules when it comes to making this salad. The idea is to get everything in the bowl and mixed with the dressing.
Start by prepping the pomegranate. This is the most time-consuming and potentially messy. I’m giving it 10 minutes, but this depends on your experience and the stubbornness of your particular pomegranate.
Borlotti beans are not particularly large as beans go, so try to dice the celery small. It's easiest to cut the stalks into quarters lengthwise, then line them up and slice them.
Roughly chop the fresh herbs so that they give more distinctive flavors with every bite. Don’t forget, if you are omitting the cilantro, double the parsley.
This salad is best if you allow 30 minutes for it to sit after adding the dressing. This allows the red onions and celery to soak up the vinaigrette and marinate a bit.
Pomegranate molasses is getting a wide enough distribution that many large supermarkets carry it. You can also find it at Middle Eastern markets.
For this vinaigrette, you can substitute equal amounts of pomegranate or cranberry juice with reduced balsamic vinegar. Tamarind paste can also be used, although you may want to add date paste or another liquid sweetener as tamarind can be very tart.
Point taken you don’t like celery. For this salad, cucumber is your best bet. You will miss out on celery crunch, but it has the closest flavor and will complement the rest of the ingredients.