Pomegranates - The Trendy Fancy Restaurant Fruit That's Really Great!
Do you have an annual pomegranate ritual? If so, it probably goes something like this: Right about now you buy one, seduced by its pinky-red color, its holiday associations, or its resemblance to a Christmas tree ornament. The pomegranate then sits in your fruit bowl, looking festive until about Martin Luther King Day, when you figure it's too old to be good so you toss it out.
Let's break that cycle. Although pomegranates can be a little intimidating, with their unfamiliar configuration and innumerable tiny seeds, they're more versatile than you might think, and they add an unusual touch to soups, salads, sauces, and desserts.
Pick pomegranates that are large, deeply colored, and heavy. They'll last for a couple of weeks at room temperature, or a couple of months in the refrigerator.
When using pomegranates, it's the seeds - and the juice they contain - that you're after. But before you can use the seeds, you have to get them out of the pomegranate, preferably intact. To do that, score the fruit into four sections (as though you were going to cut it in quarters, but just insert the knife far enough to perforate the skin). Once the pomegranate is scored, you should be able to divide it into pieces with a minimum of seed breakage. To juice the seeds, crush them and then strain through a sieve to trap the hard centers.
- Dress up a salad of frisee, grilled pears, and blue cheese with pomegranate seeds.
- Make a sauce for veal, duck, or chicken with pomegranate juice, white wine, chicken stock, shallots, and a little brown sugar. The flavor's unusual and the color's unparalleled.
- Mix pomegranate seeds into your fruit salad, and toss it with some grenadine or fruit liqueur.
- Add pomegranate seeds and orange or lime juice to a tomato-based salsa.
- For a variation of a Persian classic, flavor lentil soup with mint, parsley, turmeric, and pomegranate juice.
- Substitute pomegranate juice for citrus in a glaze for poultry, pork, or root vegetables.
- Use pomegranate seeds in bulgur or rice pilaf with pine nuts and chopped dried figs, flavored with cinnamon.
But whatever you do, be careful with the juice - it stains.
Mango Pomegranate Guacamole
Adding fruit to guacamole is a culinary tradition in Mexican cooking. The tropical sweetness of mangoes, along with their silky flesh is a natural complement to creamy avocado. Adding pomegranate seeds gives it a festive flair, with the red jewels popping against the cilantro-flecked green of the guacamole.
3/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp serrano chile, finely chopped with seeds
1/4 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
3/4 cup mango, diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
1 pkg plantain chips for dipping
Peel and pit the avocados. In a large bowl, roughly mash with a fork, leaving a few chunks for texture. Mix in the onion, chiles, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Fold in the mango, pomegranate seeds and cilantro. Add half the lime juice and taste for seasoning, adding more lime or salt as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and arrange on a platter with plantain (or tortilla) chips for dipping.
If you happen to have leftover dip (ya, right), place in a lidded container and cover the surface of the dip with plastic wrap or parchment paper, pressing down lightly so no air bubbles remain. Guacamole will keep for up to one or two days.