To me, the cool, sweet pop of a pomegranate seed has always been worth the effort it takes to remove it from its husk. The outside may be tough—and the inside a veritable maze of membranes—but once you get in there, a whole hidden treasure of seeds awaits you. This abundance explains its role as a symbol for fertility, generosity, and rebirth.
The pomegranate proves itself to be a most versatile fruit—served raw in salads and juices or cooked into stews and sauces.
Perhaps even more immediately useful than its religious and art historical significance, the pomegranate contains plenty of antioxidants and vitamins. It is said to help delay the onset of osteoarthritis, reduce inflammation, and even give the libido a bit of a boost. Unfortunately, most people, beyond enjoying a handful of the seeds on occasion, don’t have the slightest idea what else to do with one. Pity, because as these recipes demonstrate, the pomegranate proves itself to be a most versatile fruit—served raw in salads and juices or cooked into stews and sauces.
De-stem one bunch of kale and cut it into thin ribbons. Toss the greens with a decent slug of olive oil and some salt and massage with your hands for a couple minutes or more to break down the fibers. You’ll know you’re done when the kale shrinks and takes on a silky texture. Add 1 cup grated carrots, ½ cup pomegranate seeds, and ¼ cup chopped toasted cashews. In a food processor or blender, combine 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon each of tamari and rice wine vinegar, ½- to ¼-inch piece jalapeño, ½-inch peeled ginger, and a clove of garlic. Pour the dressing over the greens and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Adapted from an original recipe by Himalayan Institute’s Jen Stout.)
Put 4 cups pomegranate juice, ½ cup sugar, and the juice of a small lemon into a big saucepan and turn the burner to medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until you’ve got a cup of liquid the consistency of thick syrup. This takes ages—probably an hour and a half—but is completely worth it for its versatile awesomeness in savory and sweet dishes alike.
Warm up some olive oil in a large skillet, toss in a cake of tofu cut into 1-inch cubes, and cook until golden—roughly 3 minutes a side. Whisk 1 cup pomegranate juice, a couple minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon grated orange zest, and 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary. Pour the sauce over the golden tofu and let it simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the tofu has absorbed some of the sauce and the rest is reduced to a glaze.
Pomegranates come in more than 760 varieties and date back to 1000 BCE.
The word means “an apple (pomum) with seeds (granatus)” in Latin.
This “Jewel of Winter” grows abundantly from September through February.