FOOD: Colorful pomegranates pack a punch

Pomegranates boast antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
Pomegranates boast antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN
According to the Pomegranate Council, one medium pomegranate produces about ¾ cup of arils or ½ cup of juice.
According to the Pomegranate Council, one medium pomegranate produces about ¾ cup of arils or ½ cup of juice. PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

4 EASY STEPS TO DELICIOUSNESS

Here’s how to open a pomegranate, according to POM Wonderful.

CUT: Cut off the top about ½ inch from the crown.

SCORE: You’ll see four to six sections of the pomegranate divided by white membrane. Score the skin along each section.

OPEN: Carefully pull the pomegranate apart over a bowl of water.

LOOSEN: Gently pry the arils loose with your thumbs. The plump, juicy seeds will sink to the bottom. Scoop away what floats to the top.

Source: POM Wonderful

What ingredient works equally well in a smoothie, salad, hummus or vodka? It’s pomegranate, a superfood in season now. In fact, November’s National Pomegranate Month.

“Pomegranates are amazing. I like the tartness,” said chef Morgan Young of The Red House Catering and Love in a Bowl, Soups from The Red House — a Kimberton-based meal delivery service.

Split open a pomegranate to reveal jewel-like arils, or seed pods.

“When you bite into them, the juice just explodes in your mouth,” he described. “It’s tart and sweet and rich.”

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For his pomegranate salad with arugula, figs and almonds, Young reduces pomegranate juice, cooking off the acid for “concentrated sweetness and richness.” That reduction works well atop roasted lentils and vegetables too — a recipe from his mother and catering partner, chef Jenny Young.

Another option: Sprinkle arils over rice or quinoa “for a pop of color and flavor,” suggested chef Emily Scott of West Chester.

And for breakfast, she makes a pomegranate-topped red velvet smoothie, which is “very healthful, but tastes like a treat.”

“Pomegranates are great because they really hold up well under refrigeration,” Scott explained. “I’ll cut off both ends, slice around the skin into quarters, pull apart and then enjoy picking out the seeds throughout the week. You don’t have to eat them all at once because they stay crisp and sweet.”

Red Velvet Smoothie

Ingredients

3 ripe bananas

1 to 2 cups frozen cherries

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups fresh spinach

1 to 2 tablespoons cacao powder

Approximately 16 ounces cold water

Pomegranate seeds

Dark chocolate chips

Instructions

In a high-powered blender, combine bananas, frozen cherries, vanilla extract, spinach, cacao powder and enough cold water to blend to your desired consistency. (I used about 16 ounces water.) Top with pomegranate seeds and dark chocolate chips. Makes two large smoothies.

RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF EMILY SCOTT

Pomegranate Salad

Ingredients

Dressing:

2 large juicy pomegranates, quartered and divided

1 tablespoon shallot, minced

¾ cup avocado oil

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Sea salt and and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salad:

Baby arugula

1/3 cup sliced, toasted almonds

3 to 4 large fresh figs quartered (black preferably, or green if black are not available)

Seeds from reserved 2 pomegranate quarters

Instructions

Dressing: Into a colander over a bowl, squeeze 6 of the pomegranate quarters, (reserving remaining 2 quarters). Press hard on the seeds. Yields a cup of juice. Pour juice through a fine sieve into small saucepan. Add shallot; bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half (8 to 10 minutes). Cool, whisk in avocado oil gradually and add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in lime juice. Store in jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake well before using. Yield about 1 cup

In a large bowl, add 6 generous handfuls of baby arugula and the figs. Toss with about half the dressing (do not overdress). Garnish with toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds. Remaining dressing may be served separately with the salad if you wish or will keep in refrigerator for about a week.

RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF MORGAN YOUNG

Roast Lentils & Vegetables with Pomegranate

I like to use the reduced pomegranate juice on roast lentils and vegetables, and serve the dressing on the side for people to sprinkle on as they wish.

Ingredients

4 cups Puy lentils, rinsed

2 cups butternut squash, peeled in 2-inch dice

4 shallots, halved

2 carrots, washed halved lengthwise and cut in 3-inch pieces

6 baby turnips halved (or 2 medium turnips cut in 2-inch pieces)

4 parsnips, washed peeled, halved lengthwise and cut in 3-inch pieces

2 cups washed cauliflower florets

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

½ cup freshly squeezed pomegranate juice

½ cup pomegranate dressing (see Pomegranate Salad recipe)

Instructions

Put lentils in large saucepan, cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until almost tender, 30 to 35 minutes. (Check water level often and add more if needed.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss prepared vegetables in a large bowl with olive oil and 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt. Place softened lentils in oiled baking dish, season with salt and pepper. Stir in rosemary and thyme and a tablespoon of olive oil. Roast uncovered 20 to 30 minutes.

Empty out vegetables onto large baking tray, and place vegetables and lentils in the oven. Roast, turning vegetables once for about 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned. (You should check them several times, and remove any which are cooking more quickly to a dish.) Spoon lentils onto a serving dish, arrange roast vegetables on top. Drizzle with the honey and dress with pomegranate juice. Serve some pomegranate dressing on the side for sprinkling

RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF JENNY YOUNG

POM POMS Loaded Hummus

Ingredients

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup lemon juice

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup sesame tahini

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons hot water

Toasted whole-wheat pita

Baby romaine leaves

Toppings:

POM POMS fresh arils

Chopped flat-leaf parsley

Olive oil

Sliced red onion

Sliced cucumber

Toasted pine nuts

Sautéed mushrooms

Olives

Instructions

Put chickpeas and liquid into a saucepan, then cover the chickpeas with water to 1 inch higher than the beans. Add baking soda and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, then drain and rinse chickpeas in hot water. While chickpeas boil, in a food processor combine the lemon juice, garlic, salt, tahini and cumin. Pulse and then let sit until the chickpeas are cooked. Add the hot chickpeas to the food processor and blend until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed. Drizzle in a tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Serve on a platter with toasted pitas, romaine leaves, POM POMS and other toppings. Serves 6.

RECIPE COURTESY OF POM WONDERFUL

Pomegranate Vodka

Ingredients

1 to 2 cups fresh pomegranate seeds

750 milliliters vodka (your favorite brand will do)

Instructions

In a clean jar, muddle the fresh pomegranate seeds with a muddler or wooden spoon. Pour over the vodka, seal the container and place on the counter away from sunlight. Shake the jar once a day for anywhere from 2 days to 2 months. For a small batch, one week is enough time to sufficiently infuse the vodka.

RECIPE COURTESY OF WOLFF’S APPLE HOUSE