I was asked to help Waitrose show that it is possible to have a very special valentine's meal and still eat healthily so I got a little creative in the kitchen today. When I started cooking, I wasn't 100% certain how this was going to turn out but let me tell you this... my slow-cooked Persian venison stew with pomegranate was one of the most awesome things I've ever tasted.
I quite often use the in-store recipe cards and monthly magazine from Waitrose for evening meal ideas but this month I have been exploring the healthy meal ideas on the Waitrose website. Right now they have a Healthy Heart hub to celebrate Valentine's day with ideas for healthy dinners to cook for you loved one, along with ideas of foods which are particularly good for heart health. With these ideas to guide me, tonight I cooked Mr. B. (and the girls) this slow-cooked Persian venison stew.
You may not know that Venison is a meat which is naturally low in fat so it represents a far healthier option for a special meal like this. I paired it with Pomegranate which is believed to help combat the risks of heart disease. Add to this walnuts and sunflower seeds which are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help to reduce blood cholesterol. There are no added fats anywhere in this recipe because cooking this in the slow-cooker means there is no need for oil.
SLOW-COOKED PERSIAN VENISON WITH POMEGRANATE AND A PARSNIP & CUMIN MASH (serves two adults and two children)
300g Diced stewing venison
40g Waitrose Love Life walnut halves
1 Medium onion, sliced roughly
250ml Pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon Rose water
A couple of strands of saffron
1 teaspoon Ground allspice
2 heaped tablespoons Waitrose half-fat creme fraiche
1/2 Pomegranate (seeds only)
1 tablespoon Sunflower seeds
1 dessert spoon whole cumin seed
6 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
A few sprigs each of chopped fresh mint and chopped fresh parsley
1. Place the venison pieces and onion slices at the base of the slow-cooker pot.
2. Using a hand-blender or food processor, blend the walnuts down into a soft powder (be careful not to blend them so much that the oils release and it turns to butter!)
3. Sprinkle on the all of the walnut powder, the saffron strands and the ground allspice. Pour on the rose water and the pomegranate juice and cook on a high heat setting for 4 hours.
5. One hour before the stew is finished, check to see if it needs a top-up of pomegranate juice... you don't want it to totally dry out. Add in the creme fraiche and half of the pomegranate seeds as well as some salt and pepper to taste. Now leave to cook for the final hour.
6. To serve, boil the parsnips until they are soft. Drain and mash finely (I used a potato ricer) before stirring in the whole cumin seed.
7. Serve the stew and the parsnip mash with the remaining pomegranate seeds, a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and chopped mint and parsley. We also served steamed green beans.
Mr. B. was suitably impressed. I think this would make a stunning romantic Valentine's meal. Both of the girls tucked into their meals but I think Lara found the stew a bit alien (I think she has only eaten venison once before). I absolutely LOVED this meal and will definitely be cooking it again.