Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

I ate a whole cow on New Year’s Eve. I’m not kidding. Yes, I may have had help from the rest of the restaurant, but it was head-to-tail eating at its best and it. was. amazing. Clearly the next day, however, I needed some superfoods in my life.

I don’t really make resolutions, per se. I guess every year I strive to better myself, but that’s an ongoing project, not something that’s dictated by the arrival of January first. But despite that, I’ll admit that a new year does bring reflection on the year past and hopes for the upcoming one. I can’t help hoping that this one will be a little better than the one before it, that I will be a little better than I was, that the people in my life will be happier than they were. I can’t help wondering what will come and wishing for the best, for an easy, breezy, happy year.

So no, there are no resolutions for me, but I am using January as chance to get back to normal after a tumultuous, hectic second half of 2011. A chance to reclaim all my life’s patterns that I had so carefully cultivated over the years and that I seem to have misplaced of late. Gym in the morning, every morning? Check. Cooking on Sunday for the week? Check. Bringing my lunch to work EVERY. DAY. CALI. NO EXCUSES. Check. Cleaning on the weekends and laundry on Monday or Tuesday, coffee at home before work and fewer ponytails. Check, check, check. So this salad is the symbolic start of all of that.

This salad is from Yotam Ottolenghi (via Bon Appétit), who has been all over the food world in the last year. Apparently, he’s a genius. I agree. This salad is packed with superfoods, delicious, delicious ones. Sauteed, slightly cumin-glazed, fennel is tossed with chopped lemon and herb–filled quinoa and topped with glistening, pop-in-your-mouth pomegranate seeds. The whole thing is bright and earthy and invigorating, really. It’s just what a girl needs to get her back on her feet after a year or crazy and a night of cow.

Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

From Yotam Ottolenghi, via Bon Appétit. Serves 4.

Pomegranate seeds are a pain to extract. The best method I’ve found is to halve the fruit crosswise, then use a wooden spoon to whack the bejeezus out of it, knocking the seeds into a bowl full of water (to minimize jumping, stainy, seeds). Really take some aggression out on it, it feels good. You’ll need to peel away some of the membranes to get to all of the seeds. 

1/4 c plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs (2 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 1/4″-thick slices
2 T fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 t sugar
1 c quinoa, rinsed
1 lemon
1 serrano chile, seeded, chopped
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 c chopped fresh mint
1 t chopped fresh dill
1/4 c pomegranate seeds

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1/4 c oil until hot
  • Add fennel, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once in a while, until just tender and golden in color (~10-12 min)
  • Stir in lemon juice, cumin, and sugar and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and set aside

While the fennel cooks, make the quinoa:

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and 3 cups of water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, ~10 minutes
  • Drain and return to pan. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl

Assemble the salad:

  • Using a paring knife, remove all the peel and pith from the lemon, then cut between the membranes to release the lemmon segments. Chop roughly and add the lemon to the quinoa with 1 T oil. Toss
  • Add the fennel, herbs, and chile to the quinoa. Toss and season with salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve
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6 thoughts on “Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

  1. Love. This. Salad! Oh my. It has such bright beautiful flavors. I do hope this year is better for you Cali. The last part of the year has been a doozy for me too. Hubby in the hospital (twice!), flood in the kitchen and family room (twice!) and a few more odd instances to boot. Let’s toast to a great, easy breezy 2012 for us both. I really do enjoy your blog and your recipes always make me hungry. Take care.

  2. So glad Geni mentioned your site on her last post! I love this side dish, the pomegranate seeds give this salad a beautiful presentation. I see you added lemond zest, mmm. This salad is bursting with fresh flavor.
    If you are intrested, this month I’m co-hosting with other food bloggers a citrus blohhop. Just link up a citrus recipe like this one, so other can enjoy this salad too.

  3. Found you through Geni’s blog. Glad I did – this salad looks delicious. And I’m trying your pom seeding method next time. Not only will it save me the bloody mess, but it sounds like a ton of fun! 🙂

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