I love the jewel-like quality of pomegranate seeds. Bright red orbs, they add instant glamour to any dish. Compared with other foods that bring to mind luxury, they are a steal.
Pomegranate Health Benefits
Pomegranates are good for you. Packed with nutrients, they are approximately the size of an orange and contain dozens of tiny, juicy seeds. Pomegranate seeds, called arils contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. They also have two two unique components: punicalagins, powerful antioxidants, and punicic acid, a fatty acid linked to weight loss. Pomegranate juice benefits include helping treat conditions that inflame the joints, such as arthritis. It can also aid in the prevention of diseases caused by chronic inflammation, such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Pomegranates are an ancient fruit. They are mentioned in the Book of Exodus and the Quran, as well as depicted on the walls of Egyptian tombs and Zoroastrian temples. They are also featured in Buddhist, Hindu and European art. Recognized throughout history for their dense nutrition and medicinal properties, they have come to symbolize abundance and eternal life.
How to Cut a Pomegranate
I have always been fascinated by pomegranates. As a child, the challenge of unearthing the seeds from each membrane was part of the fun. Since eating the seeds was my only goal, the messy process didn’t bother me. I now prefer not to be dyed red by the juice, and have searched for better methods. My favorite comes from this Martha Stewart video. Following her advice I choose fruit that are a deeply colored red-purple, and feel heavy for their size. I then cut through just the skin around the circumference. I can then pull the fruit apart with out losing any of the juice. Holding the pomegranate half cut side down over a large bowl, I tap on the skin with a soup spoon. Tapping all around the skin dislodges the seeds into the bowl. When one half is empty, I repeat the process with the second half.
Pomegranates are in season from September through January. The vibrant red color of the pretty seeds make them a go-to garnish for holiday dishes. Sweet-tart flavored, they complement both sweet and savory dishes. Although I am always putting pomegranate seeds in every kind of green, fruit, and grain salad, here are some other ideas about how to use them. I find them lovely in cocktails or mock-tails. I also mix them into guacamole, or put them on top of hummus dip. Additionally, they are delicious in oatmeal or porridge or to balance the richness of dishes as disparate as short ribs and cheesecake.
Winter Salad Recipe
I am reprinting my recipe for one of my favorite salads with pomegranate seeds from my post Starting the Holiday Season. For more holiday entertaining ideas try my recipes for a Blood Orange Negroni or Twice-Baked Potatoes.
Winter Salad with Tahini Dressing
1 handful arugula
2 handfuls spinach
½ a Honeycrisp apple
1 tablespoon pine nuts
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
11/2 teaspoons tahini
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Greek yogurt
Layer vegetables, fruit and nuts into a wide bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk olive oil into the tahini, then slowly whisk in the lemon juice and yogurt until desired consistency. Taste and adjust flavor balance if necessary.
Spread a light layer of dressing along the inside of the bowl, to avoid overdressing. Mix dressing into the salad.