I’m a big fan of chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Maybe you are, too? But some times have trouble finding the stuff to make his recipes at home? Don’t worry about it. Substitute what you have on hand. If you think in terms of flavors — salt, sweet, bitter, acid, heat — you can figure out a sub for just about anything.
For example, in this recipe I didn’t have pomegranate molasses lying around. But I did have a bottle of passionfruit vinegar, an impulse buy at some specialty food store in some tourist town. Both pomegranate and passionfruit are acidic, so to approximate pomegranate molasses I mixed the passionfruit vinegar with a squirt of agave syrup. Just like that, I made a perfect dressing without having to buy another item I might use only a few times a year.
Maybe you have neither passionfruit vinegar nor pomegranate molasses. What to do? Think about the types of vinegar or fruit juices you have in the pantry. Cranberry or pomegranate juice might do the trick, or you could even consider juicing lemons, oranges or limes to achieve the same effect.
This was the first time I roasted a lemon, and it turned out to be a good thing. The lemon slices mellow in the oven, losing their acidity, and the bitter rind softens, becoming edible. It’s still bitter but the sweetness of the tomatoes, pomegranates and the dressing balances it out beautifully. This salad is particularly good with fish, or turn it into a complete vegan meal by adding some toasted walnuts and chickpeas.
Serves 3-4 as a side.
- 1 large lemon, halved and thinly sliced, seeds removed.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil.
- ½ teaspoon fine sugar.
- 2½ cups or 400g of small tomatoes, cherry or grape sized, cut in half.
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stems.
- a big handful of fresh Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped, leaving some whole.
- a bigger handful of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped, leaving some whole.
- seeds from one pomegranate.
- 1½ tablespoons of pomegranate molasses or substitute an equal amount of passionfruit vinegar mixed with agave syrup.
- ½ red onion sliced thinly.
- salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 325℉ or 170℃.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add the lemon slices and cook for 2 minutes. Drain.
- Put the lemon slices into a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of each salt and sugar, and thyme leaves. Mix so that the lemon slices are evenly covered.
- Spread the lemon mixture on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes. The lemons should look somewhat dried and have taken on a bit of color. Remove from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.
- Combine the tomatoes, parsley, mint, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses or whatever you’re using for a substitute, onion, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl.
- Add the cooled lemon slices and gently stir the salad to combine.
The original recipe can be found in Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi, first published in 2014.