How are you Franneroo?? I am great, feeling really energized for this new year, filled with excitement and hope for all the great things 2011 will bring. N5FG9VU5JH9D
As you mentioned in your previous post, I was in Greece over the Christmas holiday, enjoying some major family time and of course chomping and crunching my way through plenty of great food!! I actually spent a bunch of time in the different markets around Athens. Roaming around just a few of the many markets including meat, fish, spice and organic markets sprinkled around the city. The organic farmers’ market specifically caught my attention.
Although small, the radiance of the produce more than made up for it. Each and every farmer was boasting about the beautiful produce he had to offer, which truly looked impeccable. Making my way through the market, I was suddenly stopped by the farmer selling all different varieties of tomatoes, he challenged me to name him the place that had ever offered me a more aromatic tomato than his cherry tomatoes, even during the summer season. Honestly, I have never had a sweeter more scrumptious tomato in my life. I was like every little tomato released honey into each bite you took. Obviously, I bought plenty of tomatoes. And just as I was about to pay, he outdid himself when he offered me just one of his amazing red peppers, to taste raw. YUMMM!! As I bit into it, all I could think is that I had to get home that same second and roast a bunch of them. Sure enough, just like the tomatoes they were almost candy sweet, with the amazing crunch that is so characteristic to a raw pepper. OK, the other farmers were getting jealous, I knew I had to get going from his stall.
Next came the man who had the pomegranates. He really didn’t have to do much, because if you ask me, pomegranates are gorgeous and impressive by default. From him, I learned that there are 2 kinds of pomegranates: Sweet and Sour. I bought 2 of each, to try at home for myself to see if there really was a difference between the two (turns out that the difference is minimal, but if I had to chose, I would stick with sweet). After buying my gorgeous fruit, I asked him if I could take a photo. He came back with: “Not yet, I have to make it prettier, since you are going to publish it!” Sure enough, 3 second later, he was back with a new case of pomegranates that he gracefully chucked on top of the existing display, to make the fruit pile even larger. Then for the finishing touch, he cut open one of his pomegranates to really show-off the majestic nature of this fruit. While I was taking photos, he was heckling the neighboring farmers bragging that his fruit were the only ones beautiful enough to be shot. Hahahaha!!!
Finally, being really hungry at this point, I rushed through and bought a plump eggplant and 2 bunches arugula before heading home.
There was a definite method to my madness, I wanted to make a salad inspired by my Turkish colleague which featured pomegranate quite heavily… in short HEAVEN!!!! 🙂 He had told me about a simple salad they make in Turkey, which is dressed using Pomegranate molasses, sumac, olive oil and salt. Pomegranate molasses is basically a syrup which contains very very concentrated pomegranate. It may be a little challenging to encounter, but it is indispensable if you want to cook anything Iranian or Turkish. Moreover, it is DELICIOUS!! If you cannot find it, check out a recipe to make your own at home from one of my all time go to blogs: Simply Recipes.
I hope you love the recipe as much as we did, it is wonderfully sweet, sour, smokey and peppery! Especially when eaten with some great quality feta… OH MAN!!
Pomegranate & Grilled Eggplant Arugula Salad
- 12 quartered big cherry tomatoes (or 18 halved smaller ones)
- 1 pomegranate (peeled and seeded)
- 1 eggplant (sliced into medium slices)
- 1 larger red onion (sliced into rings)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 roasted red peppers
- 2 bunches arugula (rocket) (torn into large bite-size pieces)
- 1 tbsp Pomegranate molasses
- 4 tbsp olive oil (for brushing, caramelizing and dressing)
- 1 tsp sumac
- salt & pepper
- ROASTED EGGPLANT & RED PEPPERS: Turn on the broiler and heat your oven to 200˚C. Brush the base of a baking tray with olive oil, place the eggplant slices next to each other as snuggly as possible. Brush each with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper on each and place in the oven. In a separate tray, place your peppers next to each other and insert into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, and turn eggplants over. Bake for another 10 minutes to roast thoroughly on both sides, and remove from the oven to cool. When your peppers are nicely softened and lightly charred (as per the photo above) remove from the oven and cool. When cooled, peel and seed the red peppers and slice into strips.
- CARAMELIZING ONION: In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, place a splash of olive oil and fry the onions on high heat. Once they turn translucent, lower the heat to medium low and cook until they become incredibly tender. Add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and cook until it caramelizes properly. Remove from heat, and let cool.
- DRESSING: In a small bowl combine pomegranate molasses, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, sumac, salt and pepper.
- ASSEMBLING: Prepare a bed of arugula in a large open serving bowl. Top with roasted eggplants, tomatoes, roasted pepper strips and caramelized onion. Drizzle dressing on top and sprinkle generously with pomegranate seeds.
*** If you are not too big on all this roasting, caramelizing and seeding, you can make this salad semi-homemade in a matter of minutes by purchasing pre-roasted peppers and eggplants, pre-caramelized onions, and seeded pomegranate. The smoky taste and crispness of the freshly roasted eggplants will not be as strong, but hey you can’t have it all 🙂