Pomegranate guacamole: Serve with salmon, pork, chicken or on crostini
Since the time of the ancient Greeks, the pomegranate has been a celebrity among fruits. In fact, some scholars claim it wasn't the apple with which Eve tempted Adam, but a pomegranate.
Ancient Egyptians included pomegranates in their tombs to ensure a safe passage to the next world. The Chinese gave wedding gifts with images of pomegranates to promote fertility, and Italian artist Sandro Botticelli made the fruit famous in his work, Madonna of the Pomegranate.
Today, the pomegranate is celebrated for its health benefits. Research indicates that the antioxidant content in this fruit is two or three times higher than that of red wine and green tea and has even higher levels than blueberries and cranberries, fruits that have been promoted as containing high amounts of free radicals.
Pomegranates have a reddish, leathery skin and are filled with about 700 to 800 tightly packed, edible seeds called "arils", deep red when ripe.
To remove the seeds, cut off the crown end of the fruit. With the tip of a sharp knife, score the rind only, from the top to the bottom four to five times around the fruit. Hold the fruit firmly and pull the sections away. Do this over a bowl in the sink. The seeds will fall into the bowl, with a little help. Remove any pith.
Store the seeds covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for six months. Use in sweet and savoury salads, in dressings, as a topping for cakes, as an accompaniment for rich meats, or in drinks.
The "many-seeded apple" thrives in mild climates with low humidity, such as Africa, India, the Middle East, southern Europe and California.
The pomegranates I brought from my supermarket were from the United States. At other times of the year, pomegranate seeds are available from India.
If you want to enjoy the delightful tang and health benefits of pomegranates other than fresh, try pomegranate molasses drizzled over salads or desserts, pomegranate juice, which is often combined with cranberry, or pomegranate-infused dried cranberries (craisins).
5-6 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp each: lemon juice, finely chopped coriander leaves dash Tabasco, optional salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
Excellent served with salmon, pork, chicken or on crostini. Makes about a cup.
Seed the pomegranates as per the instructions in the introduction. Place the seeds in a blender and pulse until well mixed. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or muslin.
Excellent used in dressings for savoury salads or sweetened a little and poured over fruit or icecream. Makes about a cup of juice.
QUICK POMEGRANATE TIRAMISU
The tang of the fruit balances the richness of the mascarpone and cream.
3 Tbsp icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla paste
¾ cup cream
200g sponge cake or lady fingers
1 cup pomegranate juice or cranberry and pomegranate drink
½ cup pomegranate seedsWhisk the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla paste. Whip the cream until thick. Fold into the mascarpone mixture. Chill.
Cut the sponge into thick fingers. Dip quickly into the pomegranate juice or drink.
Place in a serving bowl or individual bowls.
Top with a little of the mascarpone. Add more sponge and more mascarpone. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Serve topped with the pomegranate seeds. Serves six to eight.
CARAMELISED ONIONS WITH POMEGRANATE MOLASSES
Pomegranate molasses is juice that has been slightly sweetened then reduced until thick. It is available from delicatessens and some supermarkets and Asian food stores.
1 Tbsp butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Combine the onions with the cinnamon and molasses. Place in the saucepan.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the onions are nicely coloured. Serves four.
CHRISTMAS FRUIT TRUFFLES
These truffles can be served dusted with icing sugar or dipped in dark chocolate and allowed to set.
1 cup blanched almonds
¼ cup each: pomegranate juice-infused craisins, mixed peel, chopped glace pineapple, pistachio nuts
1 ¼ cups pitted dates
2-3 Tbsp cranberry and pomegranate drink
¾ cup icing sugar, sifted
Toast the almonds in the oven (180 degrees Celsius) for 10 minutes or in a non-stick frying pan over low heat.
Blend the dried fruits and nuts in a food processor, until well minced.
Remove and stir in enough cranberry and pomegranate drink for the mixture to stick together when formed into small balls.
Roll into 2.5cm balls. Toss in the icing sugar. Place on a tray and stand at room temperature to dry.
Store in a covered container in a cool place. Makes about 30.
PROTECTING YOUR CELLS
Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals.
Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation.
Free radicals can damage cells and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Copyright Jan Bilton
- The Marlborough Express
Orignal From: Pomegranates, the star fruit