I’m so excited to be seeing Yotam Ottolenghi on Thursday – sad he’s not in town long enough to come and cook at home but grateful for the moments we will share. He’s in town to promote his new book Plenty More Just like other Ottolenghi cook books this book is packed full of fabulous recipes and new flavor combinations that we have already grown to love. [There’s a boozy blackberry pudding that’s not only a crowd pleaser but one of my all time favorites – in a long list of Ottolenghi favorites!]
The first recipe of the entire book is a tomato and pomegranate salad – perfect for those end of summer tomatoes and the pomegranates that grace my tree. During our recent trip to Malibu, Valerie Bertinelli arrived at the yellow beach house baring gifts of pomegranates from her tree. One of my joys of our house is the pomegranate tree – the excitement I feel inside as I reach up and pluck a ripe red fruit from the branch is immense and I strongly recommend everyone who can to plant a tree ASAP and then learn how to extract the seeds without getting stains everywhere. I showed Valerie and Krissy how easy it is to extract the seeds without getting covered in juice by using the bowl of water technique below. We placed tablespoons of seeds in our rosé Champagne and all enjoyed snacking with our bubbles as the sun set over the ocean and a pandemonium of parrots flew by.
I first tasted this salad at my dinner party last month when Charlotte brought it. It was a hit – the star of the evening. Simple and yet not – ingredients that we all know and have tasted a thousand times and yet here, in that Ottolenghi way, there is something so new and magical about this jewel like creation with “the two types of sweetness – the sharp, almost bitter sweetness of the pomegranate and the savory, sunny sweetness of tomato – can compliment each other so gloriously.”
I adapted Yotam’s recipe – no red pepper as D really doesn’t like it – and only one type of tomato – vine ripened to perfection. The pomegranate part was an easy pick from the tree in the garden and I used a little less garlic and onion.
I also cooked up some sushi rice – using my other latest obsession – my rice cooker from John and Geraldine (more on this later) and I flavored the hot rice with extra dressing and the tomato juices. I spooned the salad over the rice and topped with some very special tuna fish from Spain.
Seeds of 1 large pomegranate
5 vine ripe tomatoes, 0.5 cm dice
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
60 ml good olive oil, the best you can afford, plus a little extra to finish
1 tablespoon small oregano leaves
fleur de sel
1. Take pomegranate and carefully score the skin around the circumference top to bottom and separate in half.
Place the two halves in a bowl and cover with cold water.
Gentle prize out the seeds and leave the pith and skin to float to the top of the water whilst the seeds sink to the bottom.
Rinse the seeds and pour off the water and discard the bits until you are left with no pith or skin and a bowl of seeds.
Drain and set aside.