Weekly Winner:  This Salad Has Got It Going On!

Let’s face it, salads can be boring…mundane… expected.  It’s the go-to dish when you want to feel good about what you’re eating. But so often, to make them palatable you need to fill them with things that perhaps, are not so good for you. Creamy dressings, crunchy fried croutons, gooey cheeses, bacon!!! Seriously, when you get done with one of those salads, you just might as well have had a sandwich.

This is not one of those salads.  Toasted Couscous & Chard Salad is everything a salad should be.  First of all, its gorgeous. Nobody wants to eat an ugly salad.  In addition, it’s chock-full of nutritious ingredients, it has a multitude of textures going on, loads of unexpected flavors, and best of all – not an unhealthy ingredient in the entire bowl. It also just so happens to includes my most-recent total obsession:  Pomegranate Molasses. I honestly don’t know how I’ve lived so long without this stuff.  I also don’t know why I’ve gone so long without making this salad.  It is a true keeper.  Try it and see if you don’t agree. The recipe comes from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine and the only change I’ve made was with the beets.  I did not have raw golden beets so I used cooked red beets and simply diced them.

Toasted Couscous & Chard Salad

Serves 8 [in actuality, more like 4 to 6 — no one is only going to have a cup of this salad!]

Ingredients:

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 Tbsp butter

1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes)

6 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup Israeli couscous

1 cup grated uncooked golden beets [or 1 cup small diced cooked red beets]

1 cup lightly packed Italian parsley

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

1/4 cup mint leaves

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

8 oz rainbow chard, stemmed and thinly sliced

Procedure:

  1. In a small saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover; keep warm
  2. Meanwhile, in a very large nonstick skillet melt butter with Aleppo pepper, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper over medium-high heat. Add green onions; cook 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add couscous; cook 5 minutes until toasted.  Slowly stir in chicken broth.  Cook until all liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente.  Stir in beets; heat through.
  3. Remove skillet from heat.  Add parsley, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, mint, vinegar and molasses; toss to combine.  Toss with chard and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Weekly Winner:  A Flavor Bomb of Sticky, Tangy Goodness

I’ve discovered a new obsession.  It started innocently enough with needing to purchase if for a salad a client requested.  I had never heard of the stuff and actually had a bit of trouble finding it.  Then I did find it…and I tried it….and I’ve been using it on anything I can think of.  What is it? Pomegranate Molasses.  Seriously, this stuff rocks!  It’s a tart, sweet, sticky, fruity miracle.  Luckily it is also becoming hip which means its showing up in more recipes and is also getting a bit easier to find, although I still mail order mine.

The latest success with using pomegranate molasses was in Pomegranate-Glazed Chicken Thighs.  Less of a success was my attempt at photographing it, but hopefully the recipe and description will make up for it!  I got the recipe from Fine Cooking and man, is there a lot going on in this dish with only a few ingredients.  The only other hard to find ingredient is za’atar spice blend, which I easily mixed up once I knew what it was.  The heat of the red pepper flakes with the depth of the garlic, the earthiness of the za’atar spice blend (trust me on this, google it and make your own to keep on hand), the crunch of the walnuts and the magic that is pomegranate molasses all combine for an amazing dish. Which is more than I can say for the picture.

Pomegranate-Glazed Chicken Thighs

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp za’atar

1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes

1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 tsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses [it’s quite possible I doubled this amount]

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts, chopped

Lemon wedges, for serving.

Procedure:

  • In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, za’atar, and Aleppo pepper.  In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the garlic and season generously with salt and pepper.  Rub the spice mixture into the chicken.
  • Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.  Flip and cook the second side until browned, another 6 to 8 minutes.  Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses, sprinkle with the scallion and nuts, and serve with the lemon wedges.