Here at LFW we’ve recently become enamoured with a somewhat overlooked fruit—the pomegranate! As a child I remember eating pomegranates—imported from the Mediterranean—during the northern hemisphere summer, but here in Australia they can be a rare find, even in the summertime. The pomegranate was thought to originate in Iran (formerly Persia), and through Pakistan and northern India, and quickly spread to other areas in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and central and south Asia.
The pomegranate is a really interesting fruit … a pain (and not to mention messy) to get the arils out, but worth it in the end. So if you’ve often looked at a pomegranate and thought what on earth do I do with that?; here’s your answer …
Once you have your pomegranate, cut it into quarters and you’ll see all the bright red arils—they’re not seeds by the way—the seed is inside the aril, both of which are edible. The white/yellow pith surrounding the aril is very bitter and you need to remove the aril from the pith before consuming. Open up the quarters and gently push out the arils with your thumb, discarding all the pith and hard outer skin. You’re best doing this over a large bowl as it can be messy, but you will end up with bowl of lovely red, juicy arils.
Then what? Well, here are just a few ideas, but first … do a taste test. The arils can be sweet or sour depending on the ripeness of the fruit, which is hard to tell until you’ve tasted the aril. Most of these recipes call for sweet or very lightly tart arils, so if the arils are very sour it’s best to use them in juices or salads with sweet fruits.
Smashed Avocado on Toast—how simple is this … GF bread, ½ an avo, and sprinkle with pomegranate arils.
Breakfast Bowl—healthy and colourful … nectarine, kiwi fruit, GF muesli, natural Greek yoghurt, and pomegranate (see featured image).
Juice—add 1 cup of pomegranate arils to your apple and carrot juice, or apple and beets, or orange juice—you can ring the changes with colour by using standard navel oranges, or lovely red blood oranges.
Or something completely different:
Pomegranate and Beetroot soup (serves 2-3)
What you need: 1 tablsp extra-virgin oil, ½ onion finely chopped, 2 large carrots diced, 1 large parsnip thinly sliced, 800ml vegetable stock, 2 cooked fresh beetroot diced (not tinned beetroot in vinegar)—you can buy ready-cooked beetroot in most large supermarkets, ½ teasp ground coriander, 2 teasp fresh dill finely chopped, natural yoghurt, and the arils of one pomegranate.
What you do: heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the carrot, onion and parsnip until soft, then add the coriander and cook for a further two minutes. Add the beetroot and stock and bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins. Add 1 teasp of dill and simmer for a further five minutes. Allow to cool. Extract the juice from the pomegranate arils—you don’t want the seeds inside the aril, just the juice. You can do this using a lemon squeezer—we did say pomegranates were messy; then add to the soup to taste—somewhere between three and four tablespoons. Blend well using an upright or stick blender. Serve warm sprinkled with the remaining chopped dill, a swirl of yoghurt, and crusty bread.
Lamb with Pomegranate Glaze
What you need: 3 cups pomegranate juice (see above recipe for extracting juice from the arils), 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teasp fresh oregano very finely chopped, 2 cloves minced garlic, and either a leg or rack of lamb for roasting, or lamb chops or steaks to grill or BBQ.
What you do: place pomegranate juice and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir constantly until it turns to a thick syrup—about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm by placing the pan in a container of hot water. Mix together the finely chopped oregano and minced garlic to make a paste and spread over the lamb, then brush lightly with the syrup saving some for later. Cook the lamb to your preference and allow to rest. Mix the remaining syrup with the pan juices to make a gravy/sauce, pour over lamb and serve immediately.