Who doesn’t love a good salad? Particularly a sparkling one with crisp, bright colors and flavors, that celebrates the much-loved pomegranate.
Pomegranates are native to the Middle East and quite significant in Persian cuisine. In Iran, pomegranates are served just as they are, or juiced, or cooked down to create pomegranate syrups and pastes. They also take center stage at the Persian winter solstice celebration.
While they have always been available here in the US, it has only been in the recent decade or so – after gaining “super-fruit” status – that they have become more readily available at farmer’s markets and in produce aisles!
I could go on and on about the magical qualities of the antioxidants in cucumbers, the wide range of vitamins in pomegranates, and the healing qualities of this salad. But let’s face it, that’s not necessarily why you would eat this!
You would eat it because it is simple, delicious, visually satisfying, and gastronomically pleasing. The sprinkling of Golpar powder (Persian Hogweed) on the pomegranates creates a perfect harmony of sweet, pungent, and aromatic experiences. Golpar are thin, small seed pods that are highly aromatic, pungent, and slightly bitter. So a little goes very far!
I eat this salad because all of its ingredients remind me of home, and because of their cultural and culinary significance. Anar, Khiar, Paneer, and Na’nah are the Farsi names of these ingredients, which have featured in Persian cuisine since long before we started analyzing foods for their nutritional values and then combining them into “whole foods”.
Salad Anar-o Khiar
- 4-6 Persian cucumbers, or 1 English cucumber, sliced
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds, from 1-2 pomegranates
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon Golpar, Persian hogweed, ground
- Combine all the ingredients with the exception of the feta cheese and the dressing in a serving bowl.
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small mixing bowl and blend using a whisk.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad right before serving.
- Place the crumbled feta cheese on top and serve.