taste: fennel, quinoa and pomegranate salad

The finished dish. Bright wintry goodness

I was extremely happy to see a spread of Yotam Ottolenghi‘s recipes in the January 2012 issue of Bon Appétit – I’ve been coveting his book Plenty for ages, and this recipe gives a pretty good sense of his cooking – mostly vegetarian, fresh & unexpected combinations of flavors, and totally indulgent without involving bacon fat. As often with BA, though, I found the order of instructions illogical, so here’s how I *actually* did it, with my modifications. The original recipe is here.

Rinse 1 cup quinoa and add it to a pan with three cups water. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, slice 2 fennel bulbs lengthwise, cutting out the tough root. Heat a good slug of olive oil in a deep sauté pan, and add the fennel. Season well and let it cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden (about 15 mins, but it’s pretty forgiving.)

raw fennel
fennel cooking

Test the quinoa: if it’s cooked, drain and return to the pan, cover, and let sit.

Gather your other ingredients: a medium-sized grapefruit, a generous handful each of fresh mint and cilantro, a serrano chile and half a small pomegranate. (The original recipe calls for a lemon, not a grapefruit, but I think this variation worked really well.)

Fruits and herbs

Peel the grapefruit and remove the pith. Segment the fruit, removing its tough membranes, and roughly chop the slices, reserving as much juice as possible. Set aside 2tbsp of the juice, and put the rest of the fruit and juice into a bowl.

Rinse and chop the herbs, and finely chop the chile. (NB – the original recipe calls for a serrano chile – I’m not sure what I used, but I don’t think it was that. Either way, any not-too-hot chile that you can eat raw will be fine. You need about 1 tbsp finely chopped chile – more if you like the heat.)

Chopped herbs & chile

Add the reserved 2tbsp grapefruit juice along with 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin and 1 tsp sugar to the fennel, and let everything cook a couple of minutes more.

Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, and fluff with a fork. Add the chopped grapefruit, another generous slug olive oil, the herbs and chile. Stir.

Add the fennel mixture and toss to combine. Season generously, and top with the seeds from the pomagranate half. The internet is full of tutorials for how to get the seeds cleanly out of a pomegranate; I just dug them out with a fork, and tried not to cover myself in juice. This was a generous supper for two, but would stretch to four as an side (a grilled pork chop would be perfect.)

Superfoody goodness
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