Late Fall Tabbouleh with Pomegranate & Feta

fall-tabbouleh-with-pomegranate-and-fetaI 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?

pomegranateWhy 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

fall-tabbouleh-with-pomegranate-and-fetaLate Fall Tabbouleh with Pomegranate & Feta

INGREDIENTS

Salad

  • 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

Dressing

  • juice of 2 lemons
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp sumac

fall-tabbouleh-with-pomegranate-and-fetaMETHODS

  1. 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.
  2. Toss vegetables. In a large bowl, combine parsley, mint, fennel, shallot and feta. Toss to mix.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

OPTIONS

  1. 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.
  2. As noted above, while hardly traditional for tabbouleh, I think this would work well with other grains: couscous, quinoa, wheat or rye berries.
  3. 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.

STORE

Refrigerated for up to 2 days.

SEASON

Late Fall through early Winter.

fall-tabbouleh-with-pomegranate-and-feta

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