How to Cook with Fresh Pomegranate
The health benefits associated with this “super” fruit speak for themselves (but the tasty flavor sure doesn’t hurt either).
There is no denying the wealth of health benefits a pomegranate has to offer—it has high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, aids in lowering blood pressure, improves memory, and can also help lower the risks of preventable diseases. It’s rightfully labeled as a superfood, and has historical references dating back to ancient Mesopotamia. Given all of its recognized healing powers, is there really any question as to whether or not we should be consuming pomegranate juice and its edible seeds, referred to as arils, daily?
Don’t let the potentially messy methods of removing the arils from the inner flesh deter you from purchasing the fruit, whole and fresh. One simple way to remove the seeds is to cut each end of the fruit off and score the skin as if you were cutting the fruit in quarters. Gently pull apart the pieces, and submerge them in a bowl of water. From there you can easily remove the arils, and discard of the additional skin that floats to the top of the bowl. Simply strain the water and allow arils to dry on a clean cloth or paper towels. Another method is the score the skin in the center of the pomegranate, and pull it apart; over a large bowl, beat the outer skin with a heavy spoon until the arils pop out. Of course, if you don’t feel like messing with either method, you can purchase the fruit already juiced, which is delicious enjoyed straight or incorporated into sauces or smoothies. And you can find pre-packaged arils in the produce section of most grocery stores.
Once you have freed arils, you can start sprinkling them on… just about everything. Try to find creative ways to incorporate the fruit into your daily eating habits, as the only way to benefit from this magical elixir of a fruit is to consume it on a consistent basis. When you bite into an aril, you are hit with a burst of delightfully tart juice, followed by the crunchy seed (the seeds are completely edible, though some people prefer to spit them out) in the center—making them a fun flavor/texture addition to any number of dishes. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Salads are the easiest, no-fuss way to add pomegranate to your daily routine. A typical go-to salad is filled with leafy greens, however you can use shaved brussel sprouts as your salad base for a slightly heartier meal. You can also add pomegranate into a grain salad made with quinoa or farro for a bright, acidic bite. For a stunning winter salad, arrange a platter of navel oranges and grapefruit sections and adorn them with pomegranate arils and mint leaves.
Scones and Muffins
With the addition of pomegranate arils mixed into the dough, your scones will hit the perfect balance between sweet, tart, and buttery. The arils hold their shape in the baking process, and can be used to add a pop of color and personality to other baked goodies. Try swapping them into your favorite blueberry muffin recipe; and if you wanna take things up a notch, you can even replace the liquid called for in the recipe with pomegranate juice.
Show a more sophisticated side to your bartending skills by adding pomegranate arils to your next cocktail. The floating red pearls decorate a basic bellini, transforming it into a most-festive glass of bubbly. Upgrade a classic gin sling or a glass of Champagne with the addition of a splash of pomegranate juice and a few arils. A Pomegranate-Sage-Gin Sparkler is another party-worthy drink that offers floral notes from the elderflower liqueur. Create a ring of pomegranate arils frozen in water to make a stow-stopping display of this Sparkling Pomegranate Punch in your favorite punch bowl.
Roasted vegetables develop a subtle char when the sugars caramelize under the high heat of the oven or grill, and the sweet-tartness of pomegranate is a perfect match for this “burnt” sugar. Top arils on roasted eggplant halves stuffed with creamy tahini yogurt, toss them with roasted butternut squash, or use them to garnish a whole roasted cauliflower.
Ham Cured Pineapple with Prosciutto and Pomegranate image Photo: Kalsey Hansen
This pineapple cured in a mixture of sugar and salt is in a league of its own. In the same way you would prepare a ham for the holidays, the process is applied to a pineapple for a gorgeous appetizer or side. It’s roasted in order to nail that signature crusted ham look before being topped with fresh pomegranate arils for the perfect finishing touch.