It’s almost Christmas, and whether you celebrate it or not, I’ m giving you a gift. Pomegranates. Well, I’m not actually buying them for you, but I am unlocking their potential. For a long time we have heard about the amazing health benefits of pomegranates. They are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, low in calories, high in fiber, high in heart healthy phytochemicals (say that three times quickly then google it). They strengthen the immune system, regulate blood pressure, improve oral hygiene, reduce wrinkles and even give PMS the boot.
All this, and yet I have ignored pomegranates entirely, for the simple reason that they are a pain in the butt. They are messy, labor intensive, not roastable in any way and obscenely expensive in their juiced or seeded form. Until recently nothing moved me to entertain an interest in the pomegranate or its derivatives other than as a splash in a martini.
But then I found myself living with a young friend who has a pomegranate-a-day habit. Fortuitously this coincided with running across a pomegranate hack that made seeding a pomegranate so easy that I had to try it. Bells rang, stars aligned, produce departments rejoiced. Now, my record for getting all the seeds out of a pomegranate is 1 minute 11 seconds, and it is a rare day in my household that does not involve this “super fruit.”
Incidentally, my young friend rejected the hack, even after we staged timed contests to prove hack efficiency. A traditionalist, he adheres to his old ways, enjoying his ritual of settling down on the couch, focusing on his pomegranate, a bowl and the mission. I respect. But I also have yet to find a primary food provider who is in search of labor intensive food prep rituals. So for the rest of you, here is your key to pomegranate freedom.
Though I adore the Russian Food hacker, his version (by his own admission) is a bit too bare bones: “Ve really need a bowl, not zeez cheap plastic plates from single guy apartment.” This guy is a bit dry (and he could crack you in half like a pomegranate), but he is a pro.
And now, what to do with the bonanza of pomegranate seeds you have just unlocked? I’ve got you covered, with four festive ideas to let those seed brighten up your holiday.
#1 Pomegranate Bubbly
Pour anything bubbly—Prosecco, champagne, sparkling cider, birch beer, ginger ale etc—over pomegranate seeds and they will float up, be festive and give you something to chew on. Yum!
#2 Pomegranate Cheese Log
8 oz cream cheese (or 4 oz goat cheese and 4 oz cream cheese mixed)
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup chopped chives
2 Tbsp finely minced fresh basil
Crackers, toasts or dipping vehicles of choice.
Place cream cheese (or goat/cream cheese mix) on waxed paper and form into a log. Mix pomegranate seeds, chives and basil on another sheet of waxed paper. Roll cream cheese in seed/herb mixture, pressing lightly to stick. Serve with crackers.
# 3 Pomegranate Guacamole
Oh my! This brings me back to my very first pomegranate cocktail ever, the pomegranate margarita at Rosa Mexicano. This use for pomegranate seeds pretty much assures the pomegranate market in New Hampshire. Lest we forget, guacamole is not an exact science by any means. Shallots or green onion instead of red onion? Awesome. No fresh cilantro? No problemo. Roll with it– its Happy Hour fergawdssakes. If all you can muster is avocado, a shake of Adobo seasoning, a squirt of lemon and pomegranate seeds you are good to go.
2 medium ripe avocados
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Chips or assorted veggies for serving
Halve and pit the avocados then scoop out the flesh into a large bowl.
Add the red onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper to the bowl, mashing the mixture together with two forks until it reaches your desired consistency.
Stir in the pomegranate seeds then serve the guacamole with chips or assorted dippers.
#4 Pomegranate Desserts
Fly, be free. Let’s not overthink this. Sprinkle them on vanilla ice cream or yogurt. Put them in a trifle or slip them in fruit pies. Mix them with ripe sliced pears, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of cinnamon. Or just eat them with a spoon or funnel them from the bowl right into your mouth. Um. Of course, nobody would do something like that.
Bonus points: Just to let you know, in addition to the above we have also sprinkled them on raclette, put them into quesadillas and on salads, tossed them with sliced steak, put them in crepes and on cereal and thrown them in smoothies. And no, I have not yet roasted them, but the holiday season is young.
Are you still with me? Are you intrigued by the above? My sister turned me on to this video and my captive son and I got a little obsessed with yarn/toilet paper roll pom-pom hats. I figure there are worse obsessions, and who doesn’t need another decorative totally useless bottle topper? Right?
Merry Christmas all!