Tag Archives: pomegranate

Fesenjan – A Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew

11 Nov

I have been wanting to make a vegetarian version of the savoury and sweet Persian celebration dish, Fesanjan for a long time. It is normally made with chicken or lamb but I have used aubergine and sweet potato as the meat replacements. Pumpkin or squash would also be lovely in this or maybe even some meaty mushrooms.

The reason that I have been desperate to make this is because I love pomegranates. There are hundreds of pomegranate trees were we walk with the dog and The Washer Up is always screaming at me to stop taking photos of them, but I can’t.

“Not another bloody picture of a pomegranate” he says “How many do you need?” he asks impatiently  “You must have thousands already, along with all the pictures of blooming oranges”.

“It’s what I do!” I reply.

This is the perfect dish to showcase the beautiful pomegranates that are plentiful and cheap here at the moment. I use their ruby jewels a lot as a final garnish, like on this Lebanese Lentil Salad where their sweet and sourness pops in your mouth, livens up the whole dish and, of course, they look lovely. I have also topped this Savoury Feta Cheesecake with a generous glistening pile of them for an impressively dramatic but surprisingly easy to prepare dinner party dish.

In this dish though it’s the juice that gets to take a leading role. Traditionally pomegranate molasses (a reduced thickened pomegranate syrup) would be used but I can’t seem to find any here. I used the juice of four pomegranates and some veg stock as the liquid in which the vegetables are cooked. Along with the ground walnuts that thicken the stew while it cooks, these are the two most important ingredients in the recipe. They give it colour, texture and flavour.

You can obviously buy pomegranate juice in a carton if you like, but I wanted to try it with my beloved pomegranates. Juicing a pomegranate is quite a mission but you get used to it. I did most of it on my normal hand orange juicer, bursting any jewels left in the top of the juicer and squishing the juice out with my fingers. I then squeezed what was left in the fruit directly into the pot by hand. I got about 500 ml of juice from four big pomegranates.

Fesanjan – Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew Recipe

Serves 4. Vegan, Gluten-free.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large aubergine 300 g, cut in 1-2 cm cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato 400 g, scrubbed, cut into 1-2 cm chunks
  • salt & black pepper
  • 200 g walnuts, finely ground in a processor plus some chopped for garnish
  • the juice of four pomegranates (about 500 ml) reserve some jewels for garnish
  • 500 ml stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
  • fresh parsley leaves to serve

Heat the oil, in a large pot, over a medium heat and cook the onion with a pinch of salt for about 4 mins until softened, then add the spices, cook for a minute or so (add a splash of stock if it’s dry), then add the ground walnuts, aubergine & sweet potato. Stir to coat in the spices then add the pomegranate juice and stock.

Bring to the boil then lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for 15 mins. Remove the lid then simmer again for 25-30 mins until the sauce is thickened, it shouldn’t be liquidy.

Taste for seasoning, it should be quite sweet and a little sour. Add more salt, lemon or honey/sugar until you are happy. Serve garnished with pomegranate jewels, chopped walnuts and a few parsley leaves. This isn’t authentic but it isn’t the prettiest of dishes otherwise, it’s very brown so the pomegranate seeds brighten it up a bit.

Serve with some plain rice and a herby green salad like the ones we served the lovely Iranian family that we cooked for over the summer. They use herb leaves whole as a salad leaf rather than as a garnish. I topped it with pomegranate seeds obviously, but then I am obsessed. Apparently.

I hope they approve of my vegetarian version of Fesenjan!

Savoury Feta and Pomegranate Cheesecake with Pistachio, Mint and Parsley (and a Winner!!)

29 Oct

Having seen Beth Michelle’s beautiful pure white sweet cheesecake bed topped with a generous pile of glistening ruby pomegranate jewels, I knew that I was going to make a cheesecake with the pomegranates that I am now seeing all over the trees here at the moment.

At the restaurant we used to serve a savoury cheesecake with an apricot chutney. It wasn’t baked and I think it was goat’s cheese. Anyway I was thinking of going down a Greek/Middle Eastern road because of the pomegranate, and feta was the obvious cheese choice. Continue reading

Lebanese Lentil Salad with Pomegranate and Feta

21 Nov

I love the colour of pomegranates, I want a pomegranate wall in our office. Either pomegranate or tomato I can’t decide. These pomegranates were given to me by my friend Margarita, the one with the olive trees, she has pomegranates too…

This lentil salad is part of a mezze I made on Friday. The inspiration came from a blog I follow called Kalyn’s Kitchen which I found through a site called Vegolicious. As the name suggests, Vegolicious is a site where people share their vegetarian photos & recipes. I use it a lot for inspiration and I have also posted some of my recipes there.

The recipe was for Lebanese Lentil Salad with Garlic, Cumin, Mint & Parsley which was exactly the base I was looking for. All I had to do was add the sweet pomegranate jewels, some red onion and the sharp & creamy white feta to create the dish that was in my head.  The perfect backdrop from which the beautiful pomegranates could sparkle..

Lebanese Lentil & Herb Salad with Pomegranate & Feta

Serves 4 – 6 as part of a mezze. Vegetarian

  • 1 cup uncooked brown lentils (about 175 gr)
  • 3 cups water (about 6oo ml)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 7 or 8 cloves garlic very finely minced
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • a big handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a big handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  •  1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  •  about 100 gr Greek feta

Rinse the lentils under the tap then put them in a small pan with the water, bring to the boil, then simmer gently until lentils are cooked (about 25 – 30 mins). They should be tender inside but still holding their shape.

Meanwhile, mince the garlic cloves & chop the onion very finely. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion & garlic and cook over a very low heat until well softened but not coloured, about 10 – 12 minutes. Then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, finely chop the mint & parsley. Whisk together the lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, cumin, cinnamon & nutmeg. Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally (not through the crown), hold it in your palm, seeds facing down, into a large bowl and tap it quite forcefully, on the back, with a wooden spoon. The seeds should fall out into the bowl. Keep tapping until you have all the seeds and pick any white bits out of the bowl.

When lentils are tender, drain well, rinse under cold water then return to the pan.(Not on the heat). Turn the heat back on the garlic & onion pan, add the lemon dressing mixture and heat for about a minute. Pour this over the lentils and gently stir to make sure the lentils are well coated in the dressing.

Stir in the fresh herbs and season well with salt & black pepper. You can serve this salad warm or at room temperature. When you are ready to serve the salad sprinkle it with the pomegranate seeds, crumble over the feta and finish it off with a few more chopped herbs.

This salad can be kept in the fridge, just bring it up to room temperature and add the feta & pomegranate as you serve it.  The combination of the salty, sharp feta & the sweet, crunchy pomegranate with the garlicky lentils and fresh herbs is just spectacular. You have to try it..

Tomorrow I’ll be posting another delicious mezze dish Butternut Hummus! All the addictiveness of Hummus with the extra colour & sweetness of  butternut squash, yum…..

From Tree To Table

19 Sep

 

Pomegranate Tree

  This morning, while walking the dog, we picked a few early pomegranates which are just beginning to ripen.  Already starting to think about lunch and how we could incorporate them.   

Then while walking past the goats & getting that unmistakable smell it reminded me of a goats cheese, pomegranate & hazelnut salad I had seen in the Flavour book by Vicky Bhogal. The only thing was that this salad had a blueberry dressing & blueberries are really difficult to get hold of here.   

Rufus on his Walk

Those Smelly Goats

Freshly Picked Pomegranates

So the only other fruit I had in my fridge was some papaguayos which are  a similar to a peach & really juicy. I was happy with the pomegranate, goats cheese & peach combo as it had that Arabian flavour I was looking for so I decided to add some orange flower water to the dressing along with black pepper & fresh coriander…    

Grilled Goats Cheese & Pomegranate Salad Recipe  

Serves 2 Vegetarian 

  • 1 small roll goats cheese (with rind)
  • 1 Pomegranate
  • 2 Peaches chopped
  • 2 handfuls rocket
  • 1 handful hazelnuts (toasted in a dry pan)
  • 4 slices of country bread (or ciabatta) sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic chopped
  • 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp  sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander 
  • 1 tsp orange flower water
  • 1 dsp miel de cana * (or honey)
  • salt & lots of black pepper
  • handful of fresh coriander chopped ( Plus extra sprigs for garnish) 

*Miel de Cana is a cane sugar honey produced in Malaga. It has a flavour similar to maple syrup & is great in salad dressings & drizzled over fried aubergines. 

  1. Put the shallot in the pan with 1 tbsp olive oil and the crushed garlic, stir & fry for a minute or so to soften.
  2. Tumble in the peaches (keep a handful back to put through the salad) with the vinegar, sugar, flower water, miel de cana, ground coriander & ground black pepper.
  3. Stir & leave to stew on a low heat for about 10 mins.
  4. Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally through the middle, hold the cut side over a bowl & hit the back of it with a wooden spoon until all the jewel like seeds tumble out. (Half may be enough for 2 people).
  5. Put the grill on to heat up & toast the pieces of ciabatta on 1 side
  6. Cut the goats cheese into 8 slices & place them on the untoasted side of the bread(2 slices per piece of bread).
  7. Meanwhile blitz the peach mixture with a stick blender adding olive oil to achieve the required consistency.(It should be like runny jam).
  8. Then add salt, more black pepper & fresh coriander, blitz again.
  9. Put the goats cheese toasts under the grill for about 3 minutes until bubbling & brown.
  10. Dress the rocket & chopped peaches with olive oil & sherry vinegar, salt & pepper.
  11. Put the toasts on top of the rocket, spoon over some of the peach dressing, sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts & finally rain on the pomegranate seeds.

Eat & enjoy the flavours & textures in this exotic salad!! 

Grilled Goats Cheese & Pomegranate Salad

        
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