Pomegranates are in season, their deep red color perfect for the holidays, their seeds glistening like tiny rubies when used in a variety of dishes. They will be available fresh for only another month, but their juice is in stores year round, either the POM brand found in coolers, or Knudsen’s Just Pomegranate on the juice aisle. I use the seeds in rice dishes along with dried apricots, red onion and pine nuts, or in salads with pears, candied walnuts and blue cheese, or grapefruit, avocado and red onion. They are beautiful with roasted Brussels sprouts, and sauced with pomegranate vinaigrette made with ½ cup juice, ¼ cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. For a colorful salad, use a mandolin to slice raw golden beets, carrots and red onion very thinly, sprinkle with finely minced red jalapeno, and drizzle with a dressing of pomegranate juice, a squeeze of fresh lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper, and topped with a handful of the tiny seeds. Use the seeds on morning oatmeal, over ice cream, on waffles or French toast with pomegranate syrup.
Pomegranates are packed with valuable nutrients. They are high in vitamins C (when raw) and K, B vitamins, and high in copper and manganese, plus other minerals. Remember that cooking destroys vitamin C, so if heating the juice, be sure to add the seeds as garnish to enjoy those benefits.
Pomegranate molasses is an ingredient turning up in a lot of recipes lately, and is expensive. It’s a reduced juice and sugar mixture you can make at home and that will keep in the refrigerator for several months. Be careful not to overcook, or it will turn into hard candy instead of syrup.
4 cups pomegranate juice
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Place the ingredients into a non-reactive saucepan and heat over medium flame, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook for about 45 minutes, reducing to about 1 ½ cups of syrup. Cook another 10 minutes to make the thicker molasses. Tangy and sweet, it can be drizzled over chicken, turkey, pork, or duck for a beautiful presentation, added to vinaigrettes, or used over pancakes or ice cream.
Pomegranate-Red Wine Butter Sauce
½ cup pomegranate juice
½ cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet-Syrah
½ tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary (not dried)
2 tbsp. minced shallot
1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the juice, wine, rosemary and shallot to a boil in a non-reactive pan. Turn the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes to reduce the liquid to about 1/3 cup. Remove from the heat, and mount butter 1 tbsp. at a time, whisking to completely incorporate before making the next addition. Return to the heat occasionally as needed to incorporate the butter, but don’t overheat or the sauce will separate. Serve with salmon, pork, lamb or beef garnished with the jewel-like seeds.