Here are two pomegranates sitting on the ledge of my kitchen window.
As you can tell from my logo, pomegranate’s have a special meaning for me. In film school, I made a short series of films about the myth of Persephone. Pomegranates play an important role in the story: Because Hades gets Persephone to bite into a pomegranate she can only leave the Underworld for half of the year. (Thus the explanation for the seasons- when she is above ground there is spring and harvest and mild weather. When she is with Hades, the crops die and winter comes). I fell in love with the beauty of this fruit while incorporating it visually into the film.
I want to showcase all the sensory wonders of this berry, so this week it’s all about pomegranates. I’ll offer up some recipes that will display the versatility of this ingredient.
Here in Greece, pomegranates are considered good luck. Many people keep a dried pomegranate in their homes, or crystal or glass reproductions of its image.
My neighbor has a pomegranate tree that reaches towards my balcony. She lets us pick from them when we like, which is very generous. I also picked a bag up from the open air market recently.
Pomegranates have gotten a lot of attention the past few years for their high level of antioxidants. They are also a big source of Vitamin C, B, and Potassium.
I used to think the color had something to do with picking the right pomegranate. Although a deep red color make them more attractive to me, it really has little to do with the quality. Some insist that a bright red color is a good sign, but I’m not sure there is any foundation to this. If you squeeze into the top crown of the pomegranate, there should be no gray powder emitting. That’s a bad sign. Here are the trusted guidelines: Try to make sure the pomegranate is on the larger size, and that it feels heavy for its size. There will be more juice. It should be firm and not at all mushy.
Cutting into them is messy, and extracting the seeds can be frustrating. My father loves pomegranate and every time he cuts into them the kitchen looks like a crime scene! There are a few tricks, though:
- First of all, use gloves. The juice will stain your hands and your clothes! Fill a bowl with water.
- Cut of 1/2 inch off the top of the pomegranate.
- Place it on its side on a cutting board. Make a shallow cut 5 times from the top to the base.
- With the pomegranate under water, open the fruit from the points where it was sliced. Push the seeds out with your fingers.
- The seeds will sink to the bottom. Skim the pith of the fruit into the garbage and then strain the seeds.
- To extract the juice, let the seeds sit in a strainer or colander over a bowl.
Today I’m showcasing a simple salad recipe. I will follow up with many more.
POMEGRANATE SALAD RECIPE
One bunch Arugula
Seeds from 1 Pomegranate
20 Walnuts, Chopped and Lightly Toasted
2 Small Pears, Sliced Lengthwise- 1/2 inch thick
Juice of One Pomegranate
2 tbs Honey
1 tbs Champagne or Sherry Vinegar (white wine vinegar will do)
Mix first 5 ingredients together
Mix honey, vinegar, and pomegranate juice with a whisk. Add olive oil while whisking (or while being blended in a food processor/blender) until it has reached the desired consistency. Add S&P to taste.
Drizzle vinaigrette into salad and make sure not to add too much- otherwise the salad becomes wilted.