Hallelujah, it is Friday! Lately I’ve been juggling work, my beloved blog and a few projects that are near to my heart, but my fingers have been hitting all the wrong keys lately. I’ve caught myself sending choppy stream-of-consciousness emails that make sense to no one, including myself. Communicating with many, but saying nothing of value.
I need to get lost in some fiction, go on long walks with Cookie, breathe deeply and stretch my limbs. I need all of that, plus some good conversations with friends, before I’ll have anything worth saying. I feel like I say this over and over again. So it goes.
Please, if you can find pomegranates this late in the season, make this Ottolenghi-inspired salad. Brilliant ruby-hued pomegranate arils, crunchy celery and dark quinoa make it a colorful study in textural contrasts. Allspice warms up this simple salad, which seems to be a wintery take on my quinoa tabbouleh recipe. I dare say you’ll finish your bowl and go back for just one more forkful, then another, and another.
Ottolenghi’s original recipe in Plenty calls for barley instead of quinoa, sherry vinegar instead of balsamic, and the addition of dill. It was good, but I like my way better.
By the way, if you haven’t picked up a copy of Ottolenghi’s Plenty, I highly recommend doing so. It is a stunning vegetarian cookbook, full of unconventional recipes that feature a mélange of Middle Eastern and European flavors thanks to Ottolenghi’s upbringing by European parents in Israel. The food photography is good enough to justify the purchase in itself. As cookbooks by professional chefs tend to be, the ingredient lists can be a bit long, and the instructions exacting, but it is a cookbook I’m glad to have in my collection.
- 1 cup black or red quinoa, rinsed well in a mesh colander
- 6 stalks of leafy organic celery, leaves picked and reserved, cut into a small dice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- loose 1/2 cup curly parsley, chopped
- 2 pomegranates, arils carefully removed (here’s how)
- Pour the rinsed quinoa into a medium sized pot on the stove. Add two cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the water is absorbed. In the meantime, chop your celery and parsley. Once it’s done, remove from heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
- Drain the quinoa and transfer to a mixing bowl. While it is still hot, mix in the celery, olive oil, vinegar, allspice and salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and leave it to cool completely, or close to it.
- Once cool, add the parsley, celery leaves and pomegranate arils. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary (more vinegar or salt and pepper), then serve.