With December comes the holidays and loads of festive baking, dressed-up cocktail parties, company potlucks, and family gatherings. Whether you are looking for a dish to wow your party guests or something sweet to bring to your in-laws, pomegranates are a fabulous, fresh fruit to kick up your cuisine. Plus, it’s less expected than other seasonal flavors. If the thought of cracking open a fresh pomegranate sounds too daunting, or the possibility of staining your favorite blouse keeps you from cooking with pomegranates, you can always purchase the colorful arils already deseeded at your local market in the fresh produce section’s refrigerator. If eating them really isn’t your thing, they do have other uses, such as adding a rustic flair to your holiday tablescape.
Antioxidants help remove free radicals and reduce inflammation, and did you know that pomegranate juice has three times more antioxidants than red wine or green tea?
Rich in Vitamins
These juicy morsels are high in vitamin C, E, and K, and they are also a great source of folate and potassium.
Fresh pomegrante juice is at the top of the list for heart-healthy juices. Studies have shown that it protects the heart and arteries by improving blood flow, and it may even slow the growth of plaque in the arteries.
Smoky Eggplant Dip with Pomegranates
2 medium eggplants
1/3 c. tahini
¼ c. lemon juice
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ c. pomegranate seeds
Heat your charcoal grill to medium heat. Brush eggplants with olive oil and place eggplants directly on coals. Cook, turning occasionally, until skins are completely charred and flesh collapses, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a colander set over a medium bowl. Let cool 15 minutes. Remove skins from eggplants. Transfer flesh to a sieve set over a bowl and let drain for 10 minutes. Transfer eggplant flesh to a food processor. Add lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, and salt. Process until creamy and season with kosher salt. Transfer dip to a bowl and top with pomegranate seeds, and drizzle with additional olive oil. To save time, make one day ahead. Serve with pita chips or veggies.
1 multigrain baguette
8 oz. Cambozola cheese
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. grated orange zest
½ c. baby arugula
Aged balsamic vinegar (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the baguette on the bias to ¼-inch slices and brush with olive oil. Bake crostini for 7 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, cut the Cambozola into ¼-inch slices to fit crostini. Remove crostini from the oven, top with cheese, and put back into the oven for 3 minutes. Remove, top with arugula, drizzle with honey, and garnish with pomegranate arils.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
2 lbs. brussels sprouts
4 oz. chopped pancetta
1 c. pomegranate arils
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. feta cheese
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and cover a deep cookie sheet with foil. After washing and trimming brussels sprouts, spread them out onto the cookie sheet. Meanwhile, cook pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat around six minutes, until brown. Drain pancetta on a paper towel and drizzle remaining juices over brussels sprouts. Drizzle olive oil over the brussels sprouts, season with kosher salt and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle crumbled feta over the hot sprouts. Garnish with pomegranate arils and balsamic vinegar.
Have Pomegranates…Now What?
Sure, using them sounds like a great way to add some seasonal flair to your cuisine, but what types of dishes benefit the most from the tart crunch of a pomegranate? The crimson colored pomegranate arils add the perfect punch to winter salads or lamb entrees, while the tart red juice makes for killer salad dressings and holiday cocktails. Here are a few simple ways to elevate your culinary game with an in-season favorite.
The holiday season is a time for celebratory toasts. So why not use fresh pomegranate juice in a winter prosecco punch with fresh limejuice, satsuma tangerines, and blood oranges? The acid in the pomegranate pairs perfectly with bubbly by bringing balance. Optional: add vodka.
The possibilities are endless. Layer arugula, blue cheese, walnuts, and apples in a large bowl. Add a cup or two of fresh arils for flavor and top with an aged balsamic drizzle. Or opt for spinach, candied pecans, and goat cheese—just don’t forget the pomegranate arils!
Think squash, root vegetables, and cauliflower. Roast cauliflower with a Mediterranean flair. Coat thick slices with a mixture of olive oil, salt, lemon juice, coriander, cumin, and pumpkin seeds. Roast until caramelized. Garnish with pomegranates and fresh goat cheese. Another options is to roast squash with vadouvan, curry powder, shallots, and garlic and then garnish with fresh labneh and pomegranates.