Quinoa, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad

My love affair with the food of Ottolenghi has not waned. In fact, each time I make a dish of his, I only love him more...

I was in the vegetable aisle of Trader Joe's the other day and I saw something that made me happy! Pomegranate seeds in a little plastic container... out of season! This little miracle makes several of our favorite dishes possible year-round.

For starters, there are chiles en nogada, which we make in the autumn, the beginning of the pomegranate season. And there are several holiday dishes that call for these jewel-like seeds, notably a festive guacamole with avocados, mangoes and pomegranate seeds.

But this weekend, I had two fennel bulbs on hand and quinoa in the cupboard. And, I had the memory of a recipe by Ottolenghi that was published in Bon App├ętit in January 2012 from the article I mentioned before called 'The New Veg.'

I thought that this would make a nice light salad for our lunch, and I was right. The combination of flavors is really terrific, although I broke my general rule and made a few changes from the original without having tried it first as written.

Here is what I did: I substituted orange segments for the lemon, but I think if I had a Meyer lemon that would be a good compromise. And I left out the serrano chile, because I wasn't in the mood for spicy. I also added in a couple tablespoons of the chopped fennel fronds,as I hate to waste them. Although they look like the dill, they just add a bit more fennel taste.

The herb combination is really important, and I think the dill adds so much more than I ever thought it would, especially combined with the mint.

If you can get pomegranate seeds, I recommend this for a light lunch or as a side dish for dinner. It is beautiful, flavorful and healthy.

Roll on summer!

~ David

Quinoa, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs (2 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 1/4"-thick slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 orange
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is just tender and lightly golden, 10–12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, cumin, and sugar; cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain; return to pan. Cover; let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork; transfer to a large bowl.

Using a small sharp knife, cut all peel and white pith from orange. Cut between membranes to release segments into a bowl with juices. Squeeze the membrane for any remaining juice. Add orange segments with juices and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to quinoa; stir. Add fennel mixture, chile, and herbs. Toss gently to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer salad to a platter; sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4.


  1. First, I also posted an Ottolenghi recipe today... with fennel...a bit creepy I know. Second, I want to know more about the chiles en nogada (they have walnuts?). Third, orange and fennel sound really good together. But the chile, you left it out or not? It appears in the instructions.
    One way or the other, a perfect and different salad for summer! What´s not to like about something decorated with pomegranate seeds?!

  2. I didn't use the chile because a.) I didn't have any, and b.) I wasn't in the mood for spicy. Another time I I'll use the chile for sure.... I sent you the link to the chiles en nogada on your blog - but if you look under recipes, you can find it. I will have to add a link. Your fennel recipe sounds great. Isn't Ottolenghi amazing?

  3. This looks delicious! I can't wait to try it! Are the Pomegranate seeds fresh or dried as packaged from Trader Joe's? I have never seen fresh seeds packaged before!

    We love fresh Pomegranates! Susan's brother, John, sends us beautiful Pomegranates from his garden every year and gave us an old (1950's) press that he found in a antique store. We make juice and save some of the seeds to zing up a salad or ice cream. Extracting the seeds from fresh Pomegranates can be a pain. I do have a simple, fail-proof way of extracting the seeds and would be happy to share my technique here if you think Cocoa-and-Lavender-ites would be interested!

  4. Towny - the seeds from TJs are fresh! They need to be eaten quickly as they get moldy pretty fast... I think folks would love to hear about your method for extracting the seeds! And we loved the pomegranate liqueur you sent to us one year! Do you make that often?

  5. Ooh poms are in season here! I do like it when you can get the the seeds in the container, I seriously destroyed my favourite top trying to prise the seeds out of a pom once. I am very into salads at the moment so I will be making this asap! When I go to the USA in September, one of the shops I am going to go nuts in is Trader Joes, I keep hearing so many good things about it!

  6. Anna, I knew it was the perfect timing for this recipe for my friends south of the equator! And we have a white shirt story involving pomegranates, too! Heck, even when they are packaged just as seeds I hav even known to make a mess! Where are you coming in the US??

  7. Trader Joe's (soon opening in Portsmouth, New Hampshire) should be giving you a commission! I will stop by a Trader Joe's the next time I am in Boston just to get these seeds!

    What a pretty salad and so healthy, too! I love pomegranates, fennel, and quinoa!

    As always, an inspiring post!

  8. Thanks, Susan! I am so glad Portsmouth is finally getting a Trader Joe's - just make sure people don't forgo the Golden Harvest!!! - - I know you will love this salad, with its tasty combination of vegetables and fruits!


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