All hail the pomegranate

The region spanning from Iran to the northern Himalayas stakes its claim as the origin of these apple-sized fruits which grow on small shrubby trees alongside beautiful red blossoms.  

The skin of this regally crested fruit begins as a greenish yellow and turns vibrant orange-red when ripe, a vibrancy which led to its being used to create dye in centuries past. The leathery thick skin protects the innards of the fruit, yellow pith supporting white seeds enveloped in ruby red pulp.  

The pomegranate has enjoyed a long and illustrious history, appearing throughout the customs and writings of ancient civilizations as a symbol of prosperity, sweetness, marriage and fertility – hence its use in traditional Persian and Turkish wedding ceremonies.  

Popularly regarded as one of the first cultivated fruits, some Jewish scholars also include it as a potential forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. Featured heavily in ancient Greek art and statues, pomegranates are also one of Buddhism’s three blessed fruits alongside peach and citrus. Its exalted reputation was also evident in 16th century France, with King Henry IV featuring the fruit on his heraldic badge. His motto “sour, yet sweet” referred both to the pomegranate and the style of leadership he admired. It is evident the fruit’s importance through the ages has been great and widespread – not surprising when we think of how beautiful the fruit is, both inside and out. 

Nutrition 

Like many fruits, pomegranates are high in gut-friendly fiber. Per 100g of flesh and pips, they contain 51kcal, 11.8g carbohydrate, 0.2g fat and 1.3g protein. 240mg potassium, 13mg vitamin C, 0.31mg vitamin B6 and 0.57mg vitamin B5 are contained within their skins, useful for muscle cramps and preventing insulin resistance.  

These beautiful fruits are also high in antioxidants, counteracting the effects of free radicals on the cells of the body. Pomegranates are an especially rich source of ellagitannins, polyphenols which have been suggested as having anticancer and cardio protective properties. 

How to use 

The skin and pith of the pomegranate should not be eaten. Instead, the seeds should be extracted and eaten straight from the shell, scattered on salads, or used in yogurts or drinks. Pre-scooped, packaged seeds can be purchased. However, whole fresh pomegranates retain more of their nutritional content.  

The fruit’s Spanish name of Granada and the French moniker Grenade divulge the fact that Grenadine, an essential ingredient in many drinks, is made from this fruit by pressing the juice from the seeds and adding sugar. Another use for pressed pomegranate juice is in a reduction, which can be a unique addition to many dishes. Chef de Cuisine Kapila Kodituwakku from Rum Point Club restaurant uses pomegranate reduction in this moreish goat cheese salad recipe. The juice can be pressed from the seeds at home or bought pre-pressed in the supermarket. 

Rum Point goat cheese salad with blood orange dressing and pomegranate reduction  

Serves 6 

Ingredients 

  • 6 2oz goat cheese slices 
  • 1lb mixed baby greens 
  • 1 roasted red pepper, julienned 
  • 1/3 cup blood orange vinaigrette 
  • 6 tsp pomegranate reduction 
  • Pickled slaw 
  • Basil oil 
  • Pickled Slaw  

Ingredients 

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, seeded and sliced  
  • 1 fennel, thinly sliced 
  • 1 red onion, sliced 
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder 
  • 3 cinnamon sticks 
  • A few black peppercorns 
  • 3 star anise 
  • 6 cups of water 
  • 3 cups white wine vinegar 
  • ¾ cup sugar 
  • 3 bay leaves 

Method 

Equally separate all ingredients into three pans, except for the apple, fennel, onion and cumin powder (three pans are used to assist in the pickling process). 

Bring to a boil and add apple, fennel and onion into the three separate pans. Remove from the heat and transfer into one bowl. Place in refrigerator to cool down. 

Once cool, drain the water and toss with roasted cumin powder and salt and pepper to taste. 

 

Blood orange dressing 

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup blood orange juice 
  • ½ cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • ¼ cup white vinegar 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Method 

Place mustard and vegetable oil into blender and blend. While blender is running. add blood orange juice consistently. Add white vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. 

Pomegranate reduction 

6 cups of pomegranate juice brought to the boil and reduced by 1 cup. 

Constructing the dish 

Toss the greens with the blood orange dressing. 

Paint a line of pomegranate on a plate and place the greens on top. Lightly torch the goat cheese slices if possible or gently warm in oven for a few minutes. 

Place the slaw and a slice of goat cheese on top of the greens and drizzle basil oil on top.  

Serve roasted red bell pepper on side of the plate. 

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