It’s frequently said that making good food is predicated on feeling good. If you’re having a bad day, don’t attempt cooking, because your food will taste like yesterday’s garbage. That was oddly how I approached smoking. I would only smoke when I felt excellent, because it boosted the feeling with a lovely little nicotine rush. When I felt awful, smoking only made me feel worse. Granted, when I was a smoker I wasn’t much into food because I couldn’t taste a thing. But that’s another story.
With food I like to say forget that. Sometimes your preoccupation affects the cooking, and sometimes it doesn’t. Chopping onions and putting together something to eat can be very theraputic. This week was weird. Then we made this salad. (Yes, it’s not exactly cooking but that’s all we had time for.) The skies did not open up and sing. However, I did enjoy creating something.
I did enjoy handling a knife. I did enjoy squeezing the pomegranate seeds through my fingers and spraying juice in my eye. I did take in a deep breath of the toasting walnuts. I did give up on the salad dressing and cross my fingers as it went into the bowl with the ingredients. Everything worked out OK. It was 12:06am when I ate this salad. Not exactly dinnertime. It was bitter and nutty with a hint of sweetness. Just how I feel.
1 pomegranate, halved with all seeds removed
1 bunch watercress, washed with woody stems removed
Some grassy sharp cheddar, grated with a vegetable peel
A handful of walnuts, dry roasted in a saute pan on medium heat, let cool completely
1/2 bulb fennel, hard outer edges removed and sliced thinly
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 shallot, minced
Take half the pomegranate seeds and extract the juice by wringing it in your hands. Assemble the fennel and watercress in a bowl. Leave the remaining half of the seeds, walnuts, and cheddar until you’re read to plate.
In a small bowl, whisk the pomegranate juice, olive oil, vinegars, Dijon, salt, pepper, and shallot. Taste and adjust. The dressing should be a little acidic and a little sweet once done.
Toss with the fennel and watercress. Top with the remaining ingredients and toss lightly. Serve immediately.