Jorge and I anxiously anticipate pomegranate season every year. J more than me, he's a bit of a fanatic but I don't blame him. It's such a small window that we try to capitalize on it by purchasing our poms in bulk at Costco and regularly hold deseeding marathons. Towels spread out everywhere and bright red pom juice in our fingernails.
Pomegranates hold a bit of sentimental value for us. Early on in our dating days, which just happened to fall when poms are in season, we discovered our mutual love for them. One evening we'd planned a movie night at J's house and he pulls out two bowls of pom arils that he'd deseeded earlier in preparation for our date. It was a simple gesture but if you've taken the time to pull all the arils cleanly out of a large pomegranate, you'll understand the significance of his thoughtfulness.
To this day, we discuss how we'll manage to grow a pomegranate orchard in our future backyard in Portland despite the lengthy rainy season. Vowing to beat the odds (poms love long dry summers like here in AZ) in the fight to have plentiful poms at our disposal for life.
I'm a sucker for sweet and savory. And this cool quinoa salad is just that. Using a trick I've come to love when cooking any grain (or non-grain in this case), orange peel is added to the boiling quinoa. As they plump up, all the wonderful citrus oils are absorbed and the quinoa comes out so flavorful it could be eaten all on its own. (continue to the bottom of the recipe for 2nd helpful quinoa tip!) We've been using this quinoa lately, super affordable and also organic. You can also currently find it at Costco, if you have one nearby.
The tart pomegranate and sweet orange surpremes complement each other very nicely. While the cucumber adds a fresh crunch and the arugula a peppery bite, altogether creating a very balanced salad. It can be used as a side dish, main course, or mid-afternoon snack to give you a burst of energy for the rest of the workday.
Pomegranate & Orange Quinoa Salad
1 c. organic quinoa
1 T. butter or coconut oil
2 c. chicken stock
2 large oranges, segmented
1 medium pomegranate, seeded
1 c. diced english cucumber
1 c. fresh arugula, loosely packed
1/4 c. EVOO
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. raw honey
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
In a medium saucepain, combine quinoa and butter over medium-low heat. Stir until quinoa is gently toasted to a golden brown (you will hear popping). [TIP: toasting gives a delicious nutty taste and depth of flavor you won't get otherwise.] Peel off the zest of one of the oranges with a vegetable peeler and add peels and stock to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to rest 5 minutes. Once rested, remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
While the quinoa is cooling, combine the juice of just 1/2 of one of the oranges with the EVOO, red wine vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper to a medium bowl and whisk briskly until the dressing is emulsified. Add the segemented orange (just 1 1/2 oranges will remain to be segmented), pomegranate arils and diced cucumber to the dressing to let marinade.
Once the quinoa has cooled, add it and the arugula to the bowl and stir until all the quinoa is coated with the dressing. Serve at room temperature or chill and serve later.