This is based on a traditional Persian stew called Fesejan, which is usually made with poultry braised in a walnut and pomegranate sauce. This vegetarian version of the sauce is served with roasted sumac and chilli spiced butternut squash, toasted bulgur with fresh pomegranate and grilled baby cos lettuce hearts.
This versatile sauce goes well with roasted meats or vegetables or as a side to stews or warm salads.
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp honey
500ml vegetable stock (or water if none available)
2 tbsp lemon juice
Heat the oven to 170C. Toast the walnuts until golden, then set aside to cool. When cool, blitz in a food processor until they look like fine breadcrumbs.
Warm the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion until soft, about four or five minutes. Add the spices, cook for a minute and add the puree, bay leaves, molasses, honey, stock and ground walnuts. Season with salt, bring to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. At the end, add the lemon juice.