Pomegranates have made a real leap to stardom the past few years, mostly in the form of their ruby red juice. But I personally love the seeds, called arils. And recently, I received two of these odd-shaped, aril-filled fruits as a gift—forcing me to think hard about how to use them. I have to say, I was pretty happy with the results.
First, let me take a step back, to the part that I find most intimidating: Detaching hundreds of pearly, juicy seeds from the fruit’s pith. It can be messy business, though I learned a tip from Cook’s Illustrated that prevented our countertops from getting stained. The PomWonderful website also includes step-by-step instructions for this. Cut the fruit in two pieces (the direction doesn’t matter), then place one half into a bowl full of water. Set aside the other half. When you remove the seeds under the water, they sink and the pith floats to the top. Remove the white bits, and you’re left with a bowl of beautiful pomegranate, ready for use.
Most of the recipes I initially encountered were salads in which the pomegranate was one of many components. I actually wanted to bake something, a treat where the red candy stood out. I discovered two recipes: Pomegranate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Pomegranate Apple Bread.
Photo: Rositsa Maslarska
The cookies came from a great blog called Two Peas and their Pod run by Utah-based husband-wife duo Josh and Maria. They posted the pomegranate cookie recipe for the 2010 holiday season but to me it was new—and sounded delicious. In our house, we try to use up ingredients before purchasing new (even if it requires tweaking a recipe), so despite having only half the called-for white chocolate, I forged ahead anyway, using semi-sweet chocolate chips for the other half. Both versions worked, but I’d recommend sticking to the original recipe. The white chocolate and pomegranate pair together amazingly.
The bread I found at another lovely blog called Kirbie’s Cravings. This recipe was even older, from 2009, yet seemed new and fresh. It calls for one apple, about a cup of pomegranate arils, and spices/baking ingredients you likely have already. I didn’t have the applesauce it needed, so I substituted in oil. (I know, I know, people usually go the other direction to make a baked good healthier, but this worked just fine.) Both of these tasty treats I’d make again in a second. In fact, I may go pick up another pomegranate so I can.
If you’re not much of a baker or you want to use your pomegranate for a meal, I juiced the second fruit and mixed it into a glaze for salmon. Though the fish tasted delicious, the pomegranate got lost when combined with balsamic vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, and cayenne. Here are a couple other recipes I plan to try next time I’m gifted a pomegranate:
Apple-Pomegranate Crumble, Huffington Post
Pomegranate Fontina Rice Balls, Martha Stewart
Skirt Steak with Pomegranate Reduction, Gourmet
Mediterranean Salad with Prosciutto and Pomegranate, Bon App