Oh how I love Pomegranates, let me count the ways……Firstly I love the way they are sweet but tart. I love how they bursting with juicy goodness. I love how I’ve only just discovered them in my life !!!
Look up the benefits of this much admired fruit and you will be amazed about this superfood. It is said that pomegranate is good for the heart and blood circulation. It contains high levels of antioxidants may help to prevent cancer and may even assist with improving cholesterol levels. Antioxidants assist with the effects of aging and prevention of Alzheimer’s.
Highly revered in the ancient world, in modern Greece today, the pomegranate is a symbol of abundance and fertility. It is given as a gift to new home owners, plays a role in wedding and funeral rites and is traditionally used to celebrate the New Year by breaking them on the ground.
I remember being in Egypt in 1992 and seeing the locals line up in droves for fresh pomegranate juice at the local juice bars. I didn’t quite get the popularity of it at the time. Visiting the USA in 2008, I discovered pomegranate juice (in glass bottles) was very in vogue! Whether combined with blueberries for a massive antioxidant hit or mixed with other juices, Pomegranate was ‘hot’. It’s starting to infiltrate in Australia now as a bottled juice which I’m loving. This promoted me to consider revisiting tackling the actual fruit given its health properties.
I must confess the impetus also came from a Nigella Lawson TV episode where she scattered the seeds over the top of a Pavlova. What piqued my interest was her method of extracting the seeds. Prior to seeing this, contemplating eating them seemed to be too much effort, as once before I had tried to use my fingers to pick out the seeds !!! oh dear ! no wonder I gave up…….
The method Nigella used was to cut it in half and bash the top of the halves with a kitchen spoon. Voila, seeds just spit out with ease ! Keep turning the fruit as you bash, and give a little squeeze occasionally to get the seeds that are stuck at the top.
Ok so, now you have extracted the seeds .. what do you do with it ??? The first thing I can suggest is to have it for breakfast topped with yoghurt and a few pistachio nuts….. delicious !
We also love to have it in an absolutely wonderful recipe I found from Greg Malouf’s Turkish cookbook, which was also reprinted in Gourmet Traveller. Green olive, pomegranate and pistachio salad can be eaten on its own for lunch, or is really great served with grilled chicken. We love this salad so much the recipe quantity feeds only two of us !
Inspired by this salad, I whipped up the following the other night and it was a big hit.
TOMATO AND POMEGRANATE SALAD
Seeds from ½ pomegranate
1 punnet of grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 tblspn (or more if you like) pepitas
Handful of mint, chopped
½ handful of dill, chopped
1 french shallot, or ½ Spanish onion
Splash of Olive Oil
Dash of Sherry Vinegar (Balsamic would work too)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve.
The gorgeous kernal like seeds look like glistening jewels and offer a bit of a crunch thanks to the tiny seeds inside which have a similar texture to grape seeds.
Pomegranate Molasses is also a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. This has a unique tang and is very concentrated so you don’t require much of it to make an impact.
Grenedine syrup is also made of pomegranate. Grenedine is used in cocktails and interestingly, was used in the Middle Eastern cuisine before tomatoes were introduced.
Pomegranate lends itself really well to sweet or savoury dishes, I’m still finding ways to use them. Stay tuned for more updates as I experiment! Next time you see one in the fruit and vegie shop, pick one up and give it a try! Let me know what you think.