Persian Pomegranate Pumpkin Salad with Baharat, Bulgur and Brussels Sprouts

IMG_7555This colourful warm salad is a celebration of autumn. The flavours are so delicious and unique that I promise even the biggest Brussels sprouts haters will be converted! Bulgur, commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisines, is whole-grain and high in fibre. Pomegranate seeds add beautiful colour to the salad while also increasing the antioxidant content with their polyphenols and high levels of flavonoids that protect against heart disease and cancer. Brussels sprouts, a cruciferous vegetable is on the American Institute for Cancer Research’s list of “Foods that Fight Cancer.”(1) See their website here. They are full of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, vitamin K and glucosinolates (compounds that contain sulphur and nitrogen). Glucosinolates form isothiocyanates and indoles in the body. Isothiocyanates (like sulphoraphane) protect against cancer by binding to proteins in cancer cells and slowing their growth or causing the cancer cells to die. In addition, isothiocyanates and indoles have been shown to decrease inflammation in the body.(2)

Baharat is a Middle Eastern spice mix that includes paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon and cloves. Both Baharat and pomegranate molasses can be found in Middle Eastern markets or specialty fruit and veg stores.

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup minced eschalot (shallots in the US)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or sea salt)

Whisk the eschalot, oil, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

For the Salad:

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup medium or coarse brown bulgur
  • 500 grams Brussels sprouts (about 1 pound) cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small pumpkin (or other winter squash) cut into wedges
  • 2 teaspoons baharat spice mixture
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or sea salt)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) lightly toasted
  • seeds from 1 fresh pomegranate
  • 1/4 cup Persian Feta (omit the cheese to make this dish vegan)

Preheat oven to 230C degrees (450F).  Bring the 2 cups of broth to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add the bulgur, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and uncover. Place a clean dish towel over the pan, then replace the lid. Allow to sit undisturbed. Toss Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Arrange cut side down on a large baking sheet. Arrange pumpkin wedges on another large baking sheet and brush both sides of pumpkin wedges with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle over the baharat and salt on both sides of the pumpkin wedges. Position one oven rack in the top third and one rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place tray of pumpkin on top rack and tray of Brussels sprouts on bottom rack. Roast for 30 minutes, turning the pumpkin slices after 15 minutes. The Brussels sprouts should be well browned on the bottom and tender when pierced with a fork, and the pumpkin should be tender.

Place bulgur in a large salad bowl and stir in parsley, pepitas, Brussels sprouts, and all but 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Sprinkle over crumbled feta and pomegranate seeds. Place pumpkin wedges over salad and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Serve warm.

References

(1) American Institute for Cancer Research
(2) Jo-Ting Tsai, Hui-Ching Liu, and Yue-Hwa Chen, “Suppression of Inflammatory Mediators by Cruciferous Vegetable-Derived Indole-3-Carbinol and Phenylethyl Isothiocyanate in Lipopolysaccharide-Activated Macrophages,” Mediators of Inflammation, vol. 2010, Article ID 293642, 5 pages, 2010. doi:10.1155/2010/293642

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