Seven Species Salad
All of the Seven Species mentioned many times in the Torah—wheat, barley, grapes (wine), figs, pomegranates, olives (oil) and dates (or silan, honey-like syrup made from dates)—are used in this salad. These seven foods formed the basis of agriculture in ancient Israel and are still important products of the land and widely used in Israeli cuisine and religious rituals today. Served as a main or side dish or appetizer, the salad works well for holiday meals or buffets, especially when feeding a crowd. Feel free to add or subtract the amounts of the fruits as you like.
- 1 cup hulled barley (4 cups cooked)
- 1 cup bulgur wheat (3 cups cooked)
- 8-10 dried black mission figs
- 10-12 whole pitted or ¾ cup chopped dates
- ¾ cup seedless red grapes
- ¾ cup pitted Mediterranean green olives or olives of your choice
- 1 pomegranate
- ½ cup wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or date syrup
- 1-2 teaspoons sumac* or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper or to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Juice from the bowl of pomegranate arils
- Cook barley and bulgur according to package directions and place both in a large mixing bowl. Mix grains together gently with a large spoon. (Either or both the barley and bulgur can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days until you are ready to make the salad.)
- To make the salad, cut off any stems on the figs and cut each into small wedges, 6 to 8 per fig. Chop each date into 4 to 6 pieces, if using whole. (Figs and dates can be cut into smaller pieces if desired.) Cut grapes and olives in half around the middle circumference. Add figs, dates, grapes and olives to grains and gently mix to blend.
- Cut the pomegranate in half around the middle circumference. With your fingers, firmly hold one half with the cut side facing down into your palm, leaving some space between your hand and the fruit. Hold your hand with the pomegranate over a large bowl and use the back side of a wooden spoon to very firmly hit the skin side of the pomegranate, causing the red arils to fall out into your palm. Let them drop into the bowl as you continue working your way around all parts of the pomegranate skin until the half is empty of arils. Repeat the process with the other half. Pick out any pieces of white membrane that have also fallen out. Gently mix most of the pomegranate arils into the other ingredients, reserving a couple of tablespoons for garnish. Save any juice in the bowl for the dressing. Now is a good time to step back and see how you like the balance of ingredients. Add more of anything you want.
- To make the dressing, put all of the dressing ingredients in a glass jar, cover tightly and shake vigorously for at least a minute until the dressing is emulsified.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and mix gently, blending well. If you do this at least an hour before serving or even a day ahead, the grains have time to soak up the dressing. Serve in a pretty bowl with reserved pomegranate arils sprinkled on top, or line a platter with lettuce leaves, mound the salad on top and sprinkle with extra pomegranate arils before serving. For an appetizer, put a teaspoon or so of the salad on the ends of endive leaves, arrange on platter, sprinkle with pomegranate arils and serve.
- *Sumac is a tangy spice made from the dried small clusters of fruits from any of 35 species in one family of flowering shrubs or small trees that grow wild. Sumac proliferates by new shoots off the plant and by seeds that are spread by birds and other animals through their droppings.