I bought a pomegranate at the supermarket the other day. Breaking news! Film at 11! I know: it’s hardly newsworthy. But it is a bit of a rarity around here; I don’t go to the ‘big’ market all that often, you see. Nearly all of my fresh food comes from a few local farms (Gossett Brother’s Farm Market, John Boy’s Outpost and Holbrook Farm being the biggies), while grains, nuts, oils, and the like I generally get at my little whole foods market in Ridgefield. I typically only go to the ‘regular’ market (which I sometimes call the Muggle Market because I am insufferable that way) when I need sponges or Brillo pads or other household stuff deemed too toxic for the granola-hippie market. The big market does carry a few local things, for which I’m very grateful: Bear Mountain coffee, Wave Hill bread, Ronnybrook milk & butter, a couple of local cheeses. But mostly I duck in there, zip straight to the “household goods” aisle, maybe grab a bottle or two of Doc’s Draft, and skedaddle.
So, that pomegranate: I was picking up some orange juice for the husband. Of course, they sequester the good stuff – organic, not from concentrate, blah, blah, blah – off in a corner of the store (actually behind the front door, so you couldn’t accidentally stumble upon it if you tried), next to a tired little bundle of withering organic citrus, which is about the sum total of organic offerings in the store. Not that I’m bitter. Not at all. I turn around and almost trip over a big pile of pomegranates. They weren’t particularly glorious, to tell the truth: they looked a little travel-weary, much of the bloom off of the rosy-pink rose, if you will. But still: I had to have one.
It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t look at the price before I put it in my basket, because even I might have balked at paying $5 for a single pomegranate. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the fennel, pomegranate, and red grapefruit salad I whipped up for dinner that night, I couldn’t help thinking: I order Meyer lemons, blood oranges & kumquats, red grapefruit and organic cranberries from afar; why not pomegranates?
Why not, indeed. I went to my trusty resource for all things From Away: Local Harvest. In a matter of moments, I found certified organic fresh pomegranates from Malek Ranch in California, ordered up 10 pounds, and sat back to await the bounty. And what a bounty! Rosy pink to deep maroon, heavy, firm, supremely fresh fruits arrived at my door within 3 days. And now I have this giant pile of pomegranates on my counter and I feel just the teeniest bit like I’m channeling Tigz’ new adventure in Ibiza. (In fact, Tigzstagram may be why I started craving pomegranates in the first place. Hmm. If I start searching for marcona almonds, I’m in trouble.)
About that tabbouleh salad: traditional Middle Eastern tabbouleh is little more than bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, and a few tomatoes, all wrapped up in a bit of lemon juice & olive oil. I remembered having seen a pomegranate version from Jamie Oliver somewhere in my travels, and it seemed the perfect start for enjoying my haul. I changed it up a bit, to fit the season, and added some feta, because sometimes a grey & chilly Saturday needs a bit of feta, don’t you think? At any rate, it was pretty wonderful: warm & cool, spicy & sweet, green & red. Fancy enough for any holiday table, yet humble enough for a Saturday afternoon movie marathon lunch. Highly adaptable as well: switch out bulgur with quinoa for the gluten-free crowd; leave out the feta for a vegan version; think about radishes, celery, bok choi or kohlrabi for alternative crunchy veg. One nice thing about having a giant pile of pomegranates on your own kitchen counter is that you’re not tempted to skimp: scatter arils with a free hand over this salad and it won’t disappoint.
Adapted from Tabbouleh Salad by Jamie Oliver
- 1 cup (about 6 oz) bulgur wheat
- sea salt
- 2 oz (scant ½ cup) shelled pistachios, toasted & coarsely chopped
- 2 medium bunches parsley, chopped
- 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves slivered
- stalks & fronds from 1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 4 oz feta, chopped or crumbled
- 1 large pomegranate
- juice of 2 lemons
- olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp sumac
- Cook bulgur. In a medium saucepan, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse the bulgur wheat in several changes of cold water, until the water runs clear. Add bulgur, along with a large pinch of salt, to the boiling water. Turn off the heat, cover and allow bulgur to sit for 15 minutes. Drain well, return to the pan, and cover with a clean kitchen towel and the pot cover. Set aside.
- Toss vegetables. In a large bowl, combine parsley, mint, fennel, shallot and feta. Toss to mix.
- Make dressing. To a pint jar add lemon juice, an equal volume of olive oil + an extra splash or two, a good pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper and the sumac. Shake well, taste and adjust oil or seasonings.
- Seed pomegranate. Slice pomegranate in half through the middle. Hold each half, cut side down, over a large bowl. Smack vigorously with a spoon to remove arils, picking out any bits of bitter pith that fall into the bowl.
- Assemble salad. Dress the vegetables, tossing well and tasting. With a fork, fluff the bulgur wheat as you add it to the salad. Add another generous splash of dressing, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Spread salad onto a large platter or serving dish. Top with chopped pistachio, pomegranate arils, and a sprinkling of sumac.
Serves 8 to 10.
- While I really like the salty richness of the feta, the original recipe had none, and it could certainly do without it for a vegan version.
- As noted above, while hardly traditional for tabbouleh, I think this would work well with other grains: couscous, quinoa, wheat or rye berries.
- A variety of crunchy vegetables can work here as well, if you don’t have any fennel on hand: celery, bok choi or chard stems; kohlrabi or shaved cauliflower; radishes or spicy turnips; scallions or red onion.
Refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Late Fall through early Winter.