Friday, 18 May 2012

Eat with the seasons - Pomegranate and Quinoa salad

Going back a few years, I would think nothing of driving around Melbourne in search of an ingredient that was out of season and therefore hard to find, but for a recipe I desperately wanted to cook.  And I guess that was a sign of the times - trends were more about impressing with ingredients that weren't readily available.

Yet now things have turned full circle, mimicking an age where communities were smaller and more self sufficient.  They didn't travel for days to find a certain species of mushroom.  Greenhouses weren't used to grow strawberries out of their natural season.  Food was grown in season, locally, and diets were seasonal, reflecting the produce available naturally at that time.


Modern technology and enhanced transportation evolved and over time the sign of affluence shifted to using weird and wonderful ingredients from afar.
Times are a changin', and thank god for that!  This movement for thinking locally has grown from a number of avenues- some being the rise of farmers markets, increased concern and importance placed on sustainability and environmental health, a shift against big grocery chains, and consumers being more aware of their health and wanting to eat the freshest produce possible.
As with everything that finds itself  'on trend' and a 'buzz word' at one point or another, we need to be wary of misuse and stretching of the word 'local'.  From manufacturers to restaurants to supermarkets, this word is being bandied around just as 'natural' did a few years ago.

My thoughts on the trend are these. Whilst I will be the first to put up my hand and admit to buying frozen berries from the freezer of Woolies all year round (who could resist?!), I am being more mindful of what is being grown around me and trying to support these guys (and I guess I feel lucky living on the edge of the Yarra Valley for all the beautiful produce, including honey, being grown so close!  ), as well as taking note of what is in season and cooking dishes according to that season.  Of course the other benefits of buying seasonally and locally are often a cost saving one, as well as a greater level of nutrients in produce that has been just picked.

I've got to quickly say how shocked I was when holidaying in far north queensland recently.  Doing some shopping at the local Coles store, I found a bin of fresh coconuts and was about to pick one up excited to be trying one of the coconuts from the trees we saw lining the roads we had just driven along.  I suddenly noticed in small font under the price, 'grown in Thailand'.  WHAT??????  Seriously?  I could not believe it (well, I guess I kinda could) but really???  That just doesn't even make sense to me- AT ALL!

Anyway, spending a weekend morning at your local farmers market is a great way to spend time with the family whilst tasting all the yummy stuff on offer.  The boys and I often head off to a local orchard and they love seeing all the tractors working in the fields, then to check out what they have just dropped off in crates in the selling shed.  What a great learning experience.  Hopefully in the next year or two they can just walk out our back door and pick an apple off the tree if all goes to plan!

Here is a good website to keep up to date with whats in season in your part of the country (sorry to those reading outside of Australia but a quick google search for 'produce in season' in your country will put you on the right path).
http://seasonalfoodguide.com/

This is a great site for many countries (including Australia) to find a listing of 'pick your own' establishments near you!  Definitely worth a look.
http://www.pickyourown.org/

Both of my boys are into Pomegranates at the moment (which are in season here) and whilst they like to just to eat the red fleshy seeds on their own (my hands are paying for it!) there are some beautiful recipes that use pomegranate, and here is one of my favourites......
Oh, and nutritionally they are a good source of fibre and antioxidants (including vitamin C) and a bundle of other vitamins and minerals.


Pomegranate and Quinoa salad

Ingredients

2 c cooked, drained and cooled quinoa (cook according to directions on pack.  2 cups of cooked quinoa = roughly 1 c dry)
1 c fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3/4 c fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 pomegranates, seeds removed
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbs canola or macadamia oil (I personally find olive oil too strong for this dish but if you prefer it by all means use it!)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbs sumac (found in the herb and spice section of the supermarket)
salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. For dressing, place oil, lemon juice, sumac, salt and pepper in a small jar or container with a lid and shake until combined.  Set aside.
  2. Place all other ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss well.  Pour dressing over and toss just prior to serving.
Notes:
If you have a Thermomix, parsley, mint and spring onions could be chopped in the bowl for a few seconds on speed 5.  Place in serving bowl.
Then whiz up dressing ingredients for a few seconds on speed 5.  Set aside.
No need to wash the bowl.  Just move onto cooking the quinoa by placing 900ml water and a teaspoon of salt, if desired, into TM bowl.  Place a cup of quinoa in the basket and place inside the TM bowl.  Cook on Varoma temp for 15 minutes on speed 4.  Remove lid, stir through with a fork.  Replace lid and cook for a further 5 minutes on Varoma temp, speed 4.  Once cooled (if you are impatient like me just run the basket full of cooked quinoa under cold running water until cool) add to serving bowl with herbs, onions and pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate and quinoa salad - thanks Emma for the pic - much more professional than I could ever do!  Glad you enjoyed it ( :


6 comments:

  1. YUM!!! I have been looking for a good Quinoa salad recipe for a while and this one ticks all the boxes for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sally. Let me know what you think. Another quinoa salad that I love making is at http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/10772/Quinoa_pumpkin_and_orange_salad

      And when I'm in a rush I just cook up some quinoa, rinse it through cold water once cooked. Throw in a bowl with finely chopped celery, carrot, capsicum, snow peas, bean shoots (whatever veggies are in the fridge really) then make up a quick dressing of fish sauce, palm or brown sugar, juice of one lime and a bit of oil (I just splash it all in until its balanced)and pour that over the lot! Nice with some BBQd chicken breasts or flathead tails!

      Delete
  2. Wow! that brings back memories. When I was a little girl our family lived in FNQ and we had mandarin and orange trees in our backyard and a banana tree too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like heaven! Wish we could grow bananas here ) :

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