The sun is finally breaking through London’s grey and there are blooms of daffodils, blossom and magnolia around every corner. The explosion of spring colour (albeit, of a pastel-hue) is more than enough to get me in the spirit of creating lighter, brighter, and juicier recipes of the crisp and fruit-bejewelled variety.
This Persephone Bowl is a celebration of the changes all around us: it’s colourful, vibrant and literally bursting with juicy flavours, but still with a touch of heat – because let’s face it – it’s not quite summer just yet.
Are you wondering what Persephone has to do with this bowl of abundant taste and colour?
In the ancient Greek telling of the myth, the agrarian goddess is sent to live with Hades in the underworld for a third of each year because he tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds. (He really wanted her to be his wife). During this time of confinement, nature ceased to grow on earth (winter); until her return above-ground brought about nature’s renewal (spring).
So what better way to celebrate the pomegranate than to sprinkle it all over the flavours of a bright, sunny day? This is a salad to really liven up your taste buds and senses: saffron, sumac, citrus, peppery red cabbage and pomegranate all intermingling with the earthy flavours of toasted hemp seeds, cumin-roasted cauliflower and smoky, squishy garlic. This is a bowl of texture, flavour and happy surprises!
I’ve been enjoying the fresh flavours of my lemon and thyme Baba Ghanoush so much that I couldn’t resist sharing another recipe that really comes to life with citrus. The combination of fresh lemon juice in the tahini dressing, with raw and baked orange, brings such a light freshness to the dish.
Have you tried roasted orange slices in a salad? They’re incredible.
Aside from all the beautiful colours and flavours, here’s why you should make this meal your gastronomic leap into spring:
- it’s light-tasting, yet filling and satisfying, thanks to the lentils and bulgur wheat;
- it’s simple to put together, with little cooking;
- you’ll be getting a bright boost of vitamin C from the lemon, orange, pomegranate and red cabbage;
- pomegranates are a potent source of antioxidants, thought to have health benefits ranging from preventing heart disease, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and boosting immunity;
- hemp seeds are super-powered (but not in that way): they’re a great source of easily-digested proteins, fatty acids, vitamin E and all 10 essential amino acids (as well as having a fantastic nutty flavour when toasted!); and
- red cabbage is high in vitamin K, making it great food for your brain. You won’t be getting tricked into the underworld with a pomegranate…
Now, it might look as though there are a lot of steps to this recipe, but I can assure you that they’re all really small and simple ones! As for the optimum way to de-seed a pomegranate, I’ll leave that to your personal preference. My favoured method is to slice off one end and then cut along the lines of the segments, making it easy to remove the seeds (or arils, if we’re to be technical); but I know there are many proponents of the ‘spoon bashing’ method too. Here’s an interesting suggestion for de-seeding by submersion!
This is a meal that makes me feel like I’m tasting life. What’s your favourite combination of sweet and savoury ingredients?
- 1 medium cauliflower
- Cauliflower Seasoning: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp sumac, 1 tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp chilli flakes, 6 cloves garlic (unpeeled, but root ends removed)
- 1 orange (organic, unwaxed)
- 1 small red cabbage
- 1 red onion
- Marinade: Juice of ½ lemon (organic), 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp olive oil, pinch Himalayan pink salt
- 1 tin puy lentils (240g drained weight), rinsed and drained
- 60g bulgur wheat
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Pinch saffron
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 200g green beans
- 1 pomegranate
- Dressing: 2 tbsp tahini, Juice of ½ lemon (organic), 4 tbsp water, pinch Himalayan pink salt, pinch chilli flakes
- Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
- Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and place on a tray. Add the oil, sumac, cumin, chilli flakes and give it a stir, arranging the florets in one layer. Slice half of the orange, so that you have about 6 thin discs and add these to the tray.
- Cover with foil and place on the top shelf of the oven to cook for 15 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, thinly slice the cabbage and onion and combine in a large bowl with the marinade ingredients.
- Next, place the bulgur wheat in a small bowl with the paprika and saffron and cover with boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate so that the wheat can steam.
- Boil the green beans for about 4 minutes, then run under cold water and set aside.
- De-seed the pomegranate and add these to the bowl with the cabbage.
- Peel and chop the remaining half of the orange and stir this, the lentils and green beans, in too.
- Give the cauliflower a stir and add to the tray the garlic and hemp seeds. Return to the oven, uncovered, for a further 10-15 minutes.
- Drain any remaining water from the bulgur wheat and add this to the rest of the salad.
- To make the dressing, stir all of the ingredients together until you have a smooth, loose consistency.
- The cauliflower will now be cooked and the garlic cloves can be squeezed from their skins.
- Complete the salad assembly and serve!