Do Not Fear The Pomegranate

Do Not Fear The Pomegranate

If you have been to the grocery store in the last month, you’ve probably seen the pomegranate displays.  Did you just walk by? It’s that time of year when pomegranates are at their peak season, but the majority of people don’t know what to do with them so they don’t even try them. Or, they are stumped on how to cut the seedy, red-staining fruit up without causing a big mess. I recently received some pomegranate in my produce co-op share and I was looking for new ways to eat this seasonal treat. So, let’s explore pomegranates together.

The word pomegranate is French derived from pomme garnete, which literally means “seeded apple.” Favored by the gods in ancient mythology, considered as a symbol for fertility in many cultures, prosperity among Jews and hope among Christians, this unique fruit has only positive origins and references. Nutritionally, it is a rich source of fiber, postassium, Vitamins C, K, B6 and Pantothenic Acid. Pomegranate contains antioxidants like polyphenols, tannins and anthocyannins which effects in removal of free radicals from our body cells. It also helps in repair of cells and boosts the immune system. Pomegranate juice is known to be among the super healthy drinks of today. It is helpful in osteoarthritis and keeping the skin and heart healthy.

Interested yet?  If I have now piqued your interest about pomegranates, you may consider eating one if you gained confidence in cutting one up. The California Pomegranate Council says that there is an easy 3-step process in cutting and de-seeding pomegranates:

1. Cut off the crown, and cut the pomegranate into sections.

2. Place the sections in a bowl of water and then roll out the arils (juice sacs) with your fingers. Discard everything else.

3. Strain out the water, then eat the arils whole, seeds and all.

You can blendarize the arils and seeds to make juice, or use the nutritious seeds as a topping to oatmeal, yogurt or salads. For recipe reference, one medium pomegranate yields about a ¾ cup of seeds and ½ cup juice.

If you want to start slow, try this wonderful nutritient-rich recipe that mildly uses the sweetness of just one pomegranate, but mixes it with bolder flavors of lime, jalapeno and salmon.  As a proud Texan, this is my kinda flavor!

Roasted Salmon with Pomegranate and Avocado Salsa
2 teaspoons ground coriande
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt, as needed
1 pomegranate, seeded (see above for process)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper or to taste
1 large clove garlic, chopped finely
2 avocados, preferably Hass, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 head hearts of Romaine, about 7 ounces
4 center-cut Salmon fillets the same thickness, 6 to 7 ounces each
1 lime, cut in eighths for garnish

Mix coriander, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt; reserve. Up to 4 hours before serving, mix pomegranate seeds, onion, lime juice, jalapeno, and garlic; gently fold in avocado. If holding more than 30 minutes, put plastic wrap against the surface of the salsa, then tightly cover; store in the refrigerator. Remove about 30 minutes before serving. Separate the romaine leaves; wash, then dry thoroughly. Reserve 4 of the most attractive leaves for garnish. Slice the remaining leaves crosswise in thin shreds; reserve.

To prepare the salmon, rub a generous teaspoon of the reserved seasoning mixture over each piece. Arrange the salmon on a baking sheet, skin-side down. Roast at 500˚ F about 11 minutes for medium rare (salmon should be spongy when pressed with a finger at its thickest part.) and 13 minutes for medium-well (salmon should be just firm when pressed with a finger at its thickest part.).

Do you have a favorite recipe that uses pomegranates?  If so, I would love to hear from you!