Meet my friends: Clutter, Chaos and Mess.

by cindy winetroub rogers

Most of us have met her. The woman who plastic-wraps her sofa. Or makes you take off your shoes at her door. People whom, like Mary Tyler Moore’s character in Ordinary People, can’t handle mess.

I’m not one of those people. Rarely will my plate contain a meat and two sides, sitting politely side-by-side. No, no, no, I say, “Let the piles overlap, the gravy run into the green beans, and the crumbs fall where they may.”

We had a pomegranate tree in our front yard when I was in fifth grade. So my fondness for that mystical fruit runs deep. But, rather than just slicing them open to devour the sweet arils inside, my sisters and I would also throw them at each other. The great Pomegranate wars. We thought they were a riot. Our mother, not so much.

Cezanne said, “We live in a rainbow of chaos.”pom saladI live that, worshiping at the altar of mix, toss, mingle. I like to blur the lines between people, objects and things. Throw it all in a pot or casserole or bowl or blender and see what it becomes. Moroccan, Mexican, Thai, whatever. Bring it all on. There’s beauty in that chaos. Don’t worry about cultural appropriation. Think of it as cultural evolution.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to stick your fingers deep into the pomegranate to pick out each and every seed. The juice doesn’t really stain — your fingers, anyway.

pom arils

Fall salad with red quinoa, roasted sweet potato and chickpeas, avocado, pistachio, feta, and pomegranate.

The steps:

Before autumn ends and winter begins, take a long walk and marvel at the mix of red and yellow and orange leaves. Then go home and roast cubed sweet potato or butternut squash in olive oil and a spice mix at 375 for 30 minutes. (I chose turmeric, cumin, chipotle powder and salt and pepper.)

At the 20-minute mark, add some cooked chick peas, also doused in olive oil and spice mix.

While the vegetables are roasting, cook a pot of quinoa, de-aril your pomegranate, and prepare an oil and vinegar dressing. You may choose any kind you like. I mixed equal parts pumpkin seed and Persian lime olive oils with fig balsamic vinegar, and a touch of salt and pepper.

When the quinoa and roasted vegetables are done, toss them onto a bed of fresh spinach and top with diced avocado, pomegranate arils, feta (I’m partial to sheep’s milk), pistachios, and a drizzle of your dressing.

Red onion would be nice, too. Alas, I had none.