Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spinach-Pomegranate Salad

Last weekend Doug and I were in Naples, Florida, where we attended a beautiful outdoor wedding overlooking rows of yachts and mini-mansions.
The night before the wedding, we were on our own, so the two of us strolled through tony downtown Naples looking a spot for dinner. We found a restaurant called Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro, and wandered in. 
Our young, enthusiastic server, Cayan, very professionally described several of the evening’s specials. When we inquired about a few of the menu options, he was impressed with our knowledge of the cuisine. We mentioned that we are Armenian and told him about our website, to which he replied, “My grandmother was Armenian!”
Needless to say, we became fast friends.
Spinach-Pomegranate Salad
To start, Doug and I split a Spinach-Pomegranate salad, which was as tasty as it was eye-appealing.

For the main course, Doug enjoyed Ginger Apricot Shrimp, while I did my best to finish the Persian Style Seafood Paella. We capped off our meal with vanilla ice cream studded with pistachio nuts, drizzled with rose water, and garnished with  slivers of fresh mint. We washed it all down with Persian tea and coffee - both enhanced with cardamom.

Although the restaurant didn’t share their salad recipe with us, it was easy to figure out the main components.

For a visually appealing, and extremely tasty dish, why not add the spinach-pomegranate salad to your Lenten recipe collection?

Spinach - Pomegranate Salad
Serves 2 to 4

Salad Ingredients:
4 cups fresh, small, young spinach leaves, washed
¼ cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
¼ cup dried figs, coarsely chopped
½ cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and thinly cut into half circles
1 medium Golden Delicious, or Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
Garnishes: ¼ cup pomegranate arils; ¼ cup pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped; ¼ cup Feta or Gorgonzola cheese, optional

In a large serving bowl, toss together the salad ingredients.

To serve: Dress with vinaigrette (recipe follows). Garnish with pomegranate arils, pistachio nuts, and Feta or Gorgonzola cheese, if desired.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette Ingredients:
 (NOTE: The vinaigrette can be made a day in advance. Whisk before using.)
    2 tsp. minced garlic
    1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (see Notes)
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    2 teaspoons water

Vinaigrette Directions:
Mix garlic, pomegranate molasses, vinegar, lemon juice, tarragon and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in 1/4 cup oil, then water.

Notes from
1. Pomegranate molasses has a bright, tangy flavor. (Don’t confuse it with grenadine syrup, which contains little or no pomegranate juice.) Find it in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets near the vinegar or molasses.
 2. To make your own Pomegranate Molasses:
Simmer 4 cups pomegranate juice, uncovered, in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 45 to 50 minutes. (Do not let the syrup reduce too much or it will darken and become very sticky.)
Makes about 1/2 cup. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

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