Autumn makes herself known when the soft orange-pink pomegranates start to appear on my father in law's trees, like spectacular Christmas ornaments. It marks the start of one of my favourite seasons and always reminds me that my wedding anniversary is not too far away. I can always remember my dad and my father in law enjoying a very happy, animated conversation and a Greek coffee in the garden with an impressive backdrop of pomegranate trees, that were simply heaving with fruit, behind them on the day after our wedding. My father in law took cuttings from his trees and now they grow in my parents garden - and this is the first year that the new trees have produced a very generous and healthy quantity of fruit that is filled with sweet ruby coloured gems.
Lent stays with us for a few more weeks yet and the recent baskets of pomegranates from both of our parents has provided a good source of inspiration for our almost vegan diet. Indeed they were the star feature in this filling salad that graced our dinner table this week. The salad overflowed with little pomegranate jewels offering a sweet crunch, contrasted against the nutty quinoa, black eyed peas, chickpeas and toasted sesame seeds. A little touch of allspice enhanced the earthy flavours and there was also a sprinkle of bright green dill for a subtle aniseed hit.
Lenten salad with quinoa & pomegranate
(Σαλάτα με ρόδι και κινόα για τη νηστεία)
1/2 cup black eyed peas
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup pomegranate seeds & their juice
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
2 tsp of Greek wine vinegar
1 & 1/2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1. Put the black eyed peas and chickpeas in separate bowls, top with water and soak for 8 hours.
2. Drain the legumes, rinse well and gently boil the washed legumes in separate pots. When tender, rinse them under running water and strain well.
3. For the quinoa, rinse well. Add to a pot and bring to the boil with 1 cup of vegetable stock. Stir once, and them reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Take off the heat and let it rest, covered, for a further 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
4. Mix together the legumes, quinoa, dill and onion in a large bowl and set aside.
5. In a small bowl, whisk pomegranate molasses, garlic, vinegar, all spice, olive oil and sea salt to taste. Pour over the legumes and gently mix. Fold through half of the sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and their juice. Arrange the salad on a platter and then sprinkle over the remaining sesame and pomegranate seeds and finish with an extra drizzle of olive oil.