Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quinoa, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad

(posted by Kim)

It’s not that we were ever a big meat-eating family, but when I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s, our fare was pretty typical: meatloaf, pot roast and pepperoni on pizza along with our Chicken Cacciatore and barbecued salmon. At one point my dad jumped on the bran muffin and alfalfa-sprouts-in-whole-wheat-sandwiches bandwagon, and sometime during high school, my sister decided to cut beef and pork out of her diet. But we were never extremists, by any means.

Jump ahead to 2011 and a health scare with my mom. I won’t go into the details of what has become a regular topic of family discussion, especially the endless conversations about the documentary Forks Over Knives. Suffice it to say, more often than not these days, as a family we are vegans. Not partial vegans, allowing butter and cheese to ooze in, but wholehearted herbivores.

When I say “as a family,” that’s because I don’t want anyone to think we’re not eating any cheese or chicken or even meat on occasion. We are just trying as best we can to create full menus of vegan dishes so that when we’re eating with my mom at the table, we can all share the same culinary pleasures.

This has resulted in a great deal of creativity with tofu and vegetables, and for me, forays into the world of grains. I’m love with all of the grain salads showing up in magazines and blogs these days. I’ve become addicted to farro, and last week I tried a black barley salad with citrus and radishes. I wasn’t hot on the recipe, but the black barley was nutty and chewy, and I plan to find a way to use it in something else.

As for the recipe I’m posting here, I’ve made it a few times – adjusting ingredients and measurements from the original in Bon Appetit – until finding just the right balance of flavors. It’s ideal for light lunch main dish or dinner side.

Quinoa, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad
adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 6-8


·         3 Tbsp olive oil
·         2 medium fennel bulbs, cut lengthwise into 1/4"-thick slices
·         Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
·         Juice from 2 small lemons, plus pulp
·         2 teaspoons ground cumin
·         1-½ cups quinoa, rinsed
·         4 cups vegetable broth
·         1/2 Serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped
·         1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
·         1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
·         1/2 cup pomegranate seeds


1.      Preheat oven to 425. Toss fennel in a bowl with olive oil. Lay out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until fennel is caramelized and crispy.

2.      In the meantime, bring quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook. You want the quinoa to have a little resistance. Drain and return to pan. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl.

3.      Mix lemon juice with pulp and cumin into the quinoa. Add chili and herbs. Add fennel, scraping the juices into the bowl.

4.      Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the pomegranate seeds. Serve at room temperature or cold.

(photo by Julie Fay Ashborn)

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