This salad has several features that are likely to recur in the next little while: it can be fed to a seven month old baby (more or less) and it can be prepared in advance (eg while said baby has his afternoon nap). It is also crammed full of nutritious ingredients and is surprisingly more-ish. You could use any grains you have to hand to make it. The star ingredient is the pomegranate molasses. Without this, it would be pretty dull. With it, it's sour and tangy and sensational.
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- pearl barley (I used half a cup)
- farro (I used a cup and a half)
- 1 bunch spinach
- pomegranate molasses (a big long pour - about half a cup)
- 1 pomegranate
- about 1 cup almonds (you could use any nut or pepitas)
- 4 1/2 cups boiling water
Finely chop the onion and garlic and sautee in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the fennel and cumin seeds and fry in the oil until fragrant. Add the barley and toss through the oil, then add boiling water (3:1 water to barley)*. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Then add the farro and more hot water (2:1 water to farro). Simmer for about 30 minutes or until almost all the liquid is absorped, stirring regularly to prevent burning.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the almonds and toast them in a dry pan.
Shred the spinach, rinse and stir through the grains**. Then add the pomegranate molasses and stir until the moisture is absorbed. Stir the nuts through, reserving a few for garnish. Cut the pomegranate in half and bang the seeds into the pot through your fingers, catching the white pith, again reserving some.
Serve with the remaining almonds and pomegranate on top. Eat it with lemon baked chicken, or spicy fish, or simply on its own.
*Here is an incredibly useful chart I stumbled upon for cooking times for various grains.
** If feeding to a baby, stop here. I took some out, then kept right on going.