Sunday, January 19, 2014

Salmon and Pomegranate Salad with Raw Vegetables & Sprouts

Salmon and Pomegranate Salad with Raw Vegetables & Sprouts
There's been no lack of cooking around here - the problem is the most of the stuff that's landing on my table these days is getting consumed long before any thoughts of photographic evidence enters my mind.

This year, I've begun to focus on three things more and more:  using whole foods, playing more with herbs and spices, and making really great artisan bread at home.  Using whole foods means more than just cooking from scratch, something I have spent the last couple of years learning how to do with greater efficiency.  Instead, I am looking at using foods in their most unrefined state:  whole grains: barley, wheat, rye, and seeds: quinoa, amaranth, chia, flax.  Unrefined sugars from honey, maple syrup and organic coconut palm, for example, rather than white sugar - and mostly leaving out sugar as much as possible except for on the occasions when only a lovely dessert will do - more on that at a later date.  For fruits and vegetables, it means going local and organic as much as my budget allows so that I can eliminate the pesticides and eat food that is simply of better quality most of the time.  This also means eating more with the seasons:  there is no point in having asparagus in the winter; I am happy to wait until spring when it's popping out of the ground all over the world and I can have it at its best.  It means that all the berries and vegetables that I picked and froze last summer are now being used more actively and being put to good use on a daily basis.  It means questioning the wisdom of peeling vegetables and fruits:  if the food is organic, do I need to peel the carrots, beets, or parsnips before roasting them?  Does it negatively impact the flavor or cosmetics if I leave the peel on?  The answer to both questions is often no.  For example, nowadays when I make a stir fry, I wash the carrot before slicing but I don't peel it.  No problem.  Save yourself the time in many cases and you'll find you're really not making a compromise at all.

I have thought of Michael Pollan's line many, many times:  "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants".  Great advice.  I still eat meat - just a lot less of it, and what I eat is much better quality.  I eat a lot of plants - and love the color and flavor variety they add to the plate and how easy it is to whip up a great salad or a flavorful stir fry in 10 minutes with great vegetables, good oil, tasty vinegar, and carefully selected spices or fresh & dried herbs.

Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.
Herbs and spices are used most masterfully in the Asian, Indian and North African kitchens in my opinion.  It's not uncommon to see a list of 10 - 15 different herbs and spices in a recipe:  some pounded together to make a paste, some toasted and then ground to make a special spice mix, and any way you spin it they add an astonishing level of flavor that let's free yourself from pre-packaged mixes and bags and boxes and cans found in the store, and to know what's really gone into the food on your plate.  I am working to understand how these sometimes exotic spices & herbs (galangal is a brand-new one for me this year) work together to transform a dish from ordinary to mouth-watering.

And bread.  Ah, this one has been a five year journey for me:  from the day I first put flour and water in the bowl, determined to learn how to make bread using wild yeast, and waited and fed it and waited some more, hoping for the telltale bubbles that indicated that my starter was alive. I produced a lot of rye bread and wheat bread that served better as doorstops then as welcome additions to the table.  Then slowly, I started getting bread that if not awesome, was at least palatable.  The bread got better, the starter stronger and I began to understand the art and science behind it all just a little better with each attempt.  I read & researched & experimented; tried and failed and ate a lot of bread.  At the end of December last year, it finally happened: I discovered awesome coming out of my own oven.  A satisfying moment that is hard to explain, I'll share some of that with you here too.

The staff of life.  Sunflower Millet Sourdough.  Pretty awesome.
So if you're ready for a year of a journey toward putting even better food on the table, welcome along for the ride!  I look forward to comments, questions and suggestions as we move through the year, from plate to plate, meal to meal, from one culture's cuisine to the next with a lot of fusion cooking along the way.

And to start us off with a seasonal bang, here's a salad highlighting my favorite fruit of the winter season, the pomegranate.  I used to think getting the edible fruit out of the pomegranate was almost more work than it was worth, until I learned the easy way to make it happen.  Cut the pomegranate in half around the equator.  Hold one half in the palm of your hand, cut side down and your fingers spread, over a bowl.  With a wooden spoon, hit the outer surface of the pomegranate and watch with great delight as the seeds obligingly fall into the waiting bowl.  You can also garnish a salad or finished dish directly by performing this banging action directly over your plate.  You may need to dig out the last few seeds and remove a few pieces of white pith, but at least you won't be pulling out each sweet seed one by one as your stomach growls unhappily.

Now that we have that down, let's get started.


Salmon and Pomegranate Salad 
with Raw Vegetables & Sprouts

In a medium bowl combine:
1 small head of dark lettuce, separated and washed and torn into small pieces

2 green onions, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup raw cauliflower, cut into small pieces about the size of a fingertip

Pour the over (no need to pre-mix):

1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch salt (lime salt if you have it)

Then toss to coat the mixture lightly with the dressing.  Divide the lettuce mixture between two dinner plates. Arrange the following ingredients on top of the lettuce mixture:

1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly
1 carrot, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
150g smoked salmon (or baked if you have some leftover from a previous meal)
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
1/2 avocado, diced
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

Serve immediately.  Serves 2.  Can be double or tripled easily to make you or a crowd quite happy.


  1. This looks absolutely delicious, I find myself leaning more and more toward fish rather than red meat and salmon is one of my favourites!

    1. Thanks Jacqueline! I too find myself craving fish more and more. I've tried smoked vendance and perch on salad as well and they work really well, but somehow salmon is so easy - and the bright color against the green lettuce makes me smile every time!