One of the great things about having a blog, I reckon, is being able to convey little pearls of wisdom that those closest to me (i.e. The Other Half and the cat) couldn’t really care less about but my dedicated followers (i.e. my Mum and Dad) might actually appreciate. And so, here you go followers. My top tip for the day (and a cheeky recipe, too)…
How to deseeded a pomegranate
Much debate (in the foodie world at least – I’m not suggesting Parliament here) has been given over deseeding a pomegranate. Traditionalists call for a pin, to gently and painstakingly prize out each precious gem. More modern writers, in so many words, ask for a swift smack on the bottom with a spoon with the hope that seeds will romantically rain out upon a suitably middle class salad (see such a recipe below). I however, think I have cracked it. It’s definitely the cleanest (no massacre like blood-red spray from the smacking) and it’s definitely the quickest (no pins required).
Simply cut the pomegranate in half. Observant cooks will notice that the pomegranate is a fruit of compartments. Using the best tool in the kitchen, your hands, gently break away a quarter of the fruit. The pretty seeds will start to naturally break away. Using your fingers, help the seeds along. Continue this process, breaking another quarter of fruit away, easing the seeds out, discarding any bit of white, bitter membrane. See, simples. Then, when you’ve done that, make my delicious salad. It might look like a lot of ingredients but there isn’t anything too exotic in there and it is very low maintenance. Just let the bulgur wheat soak while the veggies are roasting and put on a brew and read Cotswoldcapers while you wait!
A bejewelled bulgur wheat salad
1 medium butternut squash
A punnet of cherry tomatoes (about 350g)
2 bundles of asparagus (about 12 stalks)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 bunch of spring onions
1 bulb of garlic
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
500g bulgur wheat
A handful of parsley
A handful of mint
2 tbsps chopped dill
100g pumpkin seeds
100g sunflower seeds
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100ml cider vinegar
200ml hemp oil
400g feta cheese (optional)
- Peel and chop the butternut squash into rough cubes and throw in a large roasting tray with the cherry tomatoes. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus (I love that sound) and chop in half, deseeded the peppers and roughly slice. Peel and chop the spring onions in half, too, and add them all to the pan. You can, of course, use whatever veggies you like – we also regularly throw in some courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms, etc. Smash a bulb of garlic, but leave the individual cloves in their cases, and add to the pan with the dried chilli flakes, salt and pepper, and a good glug of olive oil. Don’t bother with the really expensive stuff, a good medium all-rounder will do. Place in a hot oven (around 200ºC) for 30-45 minutes until all of the veg is tender and lightly charred. Check every so often, and have a quick toss of the veg, to make sure nothing is catching.
- Meanwhile, pour the bulgur wheat into a large bowl and pour over boiling water so it covers by about an inch. Chop the two lemons in half, squeeze over the juice and throw them in with the soaking bulgur wheat, and cover with clingfilm. Leave to soak.
- Roughly chop the parsley, finely chop the mint and dill and deseed the pomegranate (see the tip above). Chop the feta into rough chunks.
- Dry fry the sunflower seeds until lightly browned and toasted, and the pumpkin seeds until the pop and crack.
- When the veggies are well roasted, remove the garlic and squeeze the soft, sweet garlic from two of the cloves into a mortar. Add the mustard, a pinch of sea salt, and pound together with a pestle until smooth. Add the vinegar and hemp oil (I am using hemp at the moment as that is what I have in the cupboard but olive or rapeseed would do) and using a whisk, combine until emulsified.
- When the bulgur wheat is completely soaked and dry (i.e. there shouldn’t be any residual liquid – drain if necessary) remove the lemon halves and fold in the veggies, herbs, pomegranate and toasted seeds and pour over the dressing while everything is still warm. If you like feta, serve it over the top. Enjoy – it’s delicious with lamb steaks or on its own in the lunchbox. Serve warm or cold.