Ancient grain salad, goat’s curd, pomegranate, crisp fried shallots

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 - 8 people

"The idea here is hardly original," says Sibley. "The combination of ingredients is age-old. Grains, pulses, pistachio nuts, pomegranate and goat's curd are all quite Middle Eastern in origin. This is a delicious and nutritious dish to serve as either a shared starter or a side dish."

  • 200 gm red or white quinoa
  • 150 gm (¾ cup) freekeh
  • 100 gm (½ cup) wild rice
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 400 gm canned chickpeas
  • 240 gm canned green lentils
  • 1 pomegranate
  • ½ bunch dill fronds, roughly chopped
  • 15 mint leaves, torn
  • 60 gm pistachios, crushed
  • 100 gm goat’s curd
  •  
  • Pomegranate dressing
  • 40 ml pomegranate molasses (see note)
  • 1½ tbsp lime juice
  • 1½ tbsp tarragon vinegar
  • 30 gm ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 185 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  •  
  • Crisp fried shallots
  • 3 shallots, peeled
  • To coat: cornflour
  • 500 ml (2 cups) canola oil
01   Wash the quinoa, freekeh and rice separately under cold running water, then drain. Put the wild rice in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and leave to simmer for 40 minutes or until cooked but firm. Drain and spread out on a tray to cool down.
02   Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the freekeh, mix to coat, and toast for several minutes. Pour in 400ml boiling water, ¾ tsp salt and some black pepper, bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure the freekeh is al dente, then remove the lid to allow any remaining liquid to evaporate. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
03   Combine the quinoa and 500ml cold water with salt and pepper in a saucepan, bring to the boil over high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Turn down to low-medium heat and, stirring occasionally, cook for 10 minutes until the water has absorbed and the quinoa is al dente. Evenly spread the quinoa across a tray and allow to cool. When cool, add rice and freekeh and lightly mix with your fingertips to separate the grains.
04   Rinse the chickpeas and lentils thoroughly under cold running water. Drain well, combine with the grains and mix evenly. Refrigerate.
05   Score through the skin of the pomegranate in half (base to head), just enough to twist the fruit apart into two chunks. Detach the seeds from the pith by holding each half seed-side down in the palm of your hand and tapping around the skin with your knuckles or a spoon, letting the seeds fall away through your fingers into a bowl. Remove any white membrane.
06   For pomegranate dressing, combine ingredients in a food processor, except the extra-virgin olive oil. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the oil until smooth and emulsified. Drain in a fine sieve and set aside.
07   For crisp fried shallots, very thinly slice the shallots into rounds and separate into individual rings. Coat the shallots well with cornflour, then put them in a sieve and shake off the excess cornflour. Put the oil in a saucepan and when the temperature is 150C, or when the oil bubbles vigorously when the handle of a wooden spoon is inserted, add the shallots and shallow-fry until golden and crisp (be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain on absorbent paper and season immediately with salt.
08   To serve, add the herbs, pistachios and pomegranate seeds to the grains and legumes. Mix in the pomegranate dressing and season. Garnish with dollops of goat’s curds and some crisp fried shallots.

Note Pomegranate molasses is available from select Middle Eastern grocers and delicatessens. This recipe is from New Classics ($49.95, hbk) by Philippa Sibley, published by Hardie Grant Books. It has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.

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