Split Wheat and Swiss Chard with Pomegranate Molasses
Dee – They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it certainly did in this case because I missed my weekly delve into the pages of the Jerusalem cook book last week due to Jay and me taking part in the BBC Good Food Seven Day Summer diet plan (click here for details). All wasn’t totally lost though, as several of the recipes we cooked wouldn’t have been too out of place in this section of the blog; Couscous, hummus, chopped salad and flatbreads were all included in the diet, and I used Palestinian Maftoul to great effect in a Spicy Vegetable Pilau.
It’s great to get back to this project though, and what a return it is: The featured ingredient from September 2013, Pomegranate Molasses, is a wonderfully dark, rich and sensuous ingredient that envelops itself around every dish it appears in. It is very sweet tasting, yet I have only ever seen it used in savoury dishes. I think that adds to its mystique though, and I love using it in recipes. I first encountered it when cooking from Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’ book, and both he and Sami Tamimi include it in their essential ingredients to have with them on a desert island.
The recipe I chose to showcase it in was the Split What and Swiss Chard dish, on page 100. I wasn’t able to recreate the recipe one hundred per cent accurately as I was unable to get any Swiss Chard, and I had to make up a slight shortfall of split wheat with some pearl barley, though this was listed as an acceptable substitute. I used spring greens instead of the Swiss Chard. I chose this recipe because I felt it represented something of a challenge. How would the sweet pomegranate molasses taste alongside the earthiness of the greens?
The recipe was fairly simple to follow, though it took some time to separate the leaves and stalks from the greens and chop them up. There was also quite a wait before it was done, mainly for the wheat. Patience certainly paid off though and there were some great tastes to be enjoyed. The wheat had taken on a chewy texture, the stalks of the greens still retained a slight crunch which contrasted nicely with the softened leaves, and the pomegranate molasses and sugar added sweetness and richness which turned what was in essence quite a simple dish into something quite luxurious.
The recommended accompaniment was some yoghurt, so I had a bit of fun with piping it onto the completed dish to give a zig-zag effect. I don’t usually go to this much trouble but I quite liked how it turned out and it added a slight creaminess to the dish. I topped it all off with a little more pomegranate molasses just before serving to create an initial burst of added sweetness. Both these final flourishes turned out to have been more than mere decoration and I was pleased to have added them.
In terms of quantity, we found that there was enough for six servings rather than the specified four.
Another one to make again, perhaps as an accompaniment to plain cooked chicken or burgers, as recommended in the commentary for the recipe.
Bonus Recipe (Not from the Jerusalem recipe book)
Tomato and Pomegranate Salad with Garlic Dressing
I really didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to write about this fabulous salad, which has been a favourite of both Jay's and mine for some time, so I have included it here as a bonus dish. The recipe was influenced by a Turkish salad of tomato and pomegranate seeds, and although it doesn’t appear in the Jerusalem cook book, it was featured in an episode of Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feast covering the food of Israel, and the recipe is in ‘Plenty More’.
The Pomegranate Molasses forms the base for the dressing, where it is joined by garlic, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Ground allspice should have been included too but we had run out so I decided to use some Ethiopian Berbere spice mix instead, which provided quite a different taste to the allspice yet still worked really well. It isn’t as incongruous as it sounds either, as there is a community of Ethiopian Jews who reside in Jerusalem so it’s not totally implausible to use it.
The salad itself is quite simple, consisting of chopped tomatoes, red onion and pepper, over which is poured the dressing, followed by the pomegranate seeds and finally picked oregano leaves. We were lucky to be able to use fresh oregano from home as our plant is doing quite well at the moment. We also have a thriving sage plant, so I must seek out a recipe which includes sage very soon.We have made this salad several times before as it is easy to prepare and looks and tastes fantastic. The dressing adds a familiar richness to both the colour and flavour of the salad, and as the recipe’s accompanying commentary states, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to sit with a spoon and eat the whole lot. We were strong willed this time though and have saved some for tomorrow.
“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest”
(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site. The US details are provided on the omgyummy.com web site)