featured-food-and-winefood and wineIssue 25

In Season: Pomegranates

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By Noel Daniel

As winter settles in, it seems like most of the years’ fruits go out, except for the sweet, tangy, and festively bright pomegranate. In Ancient Egypt, the pomegranate was a symbol of prosperity. In Ancient Greece, the pomegranate symbolized the lean winter months when Demeter, the goddess of the field, was in mourning for her daughter who, having eaten the seeds of a pomegranate given to her by Hades, was doomed to spend half of every year with him in the underworld.

These days in Greece, the fruit is venerated as a traditional housewarming gift, and part of both funeral and wedding traditions. And on New Years, the Greeks break pomegranates against the ground to celebrate (which we do not recommend if you happen to be wearing white).

As a food, pomegranates are diverse. You can drink pomegranates in juice form, or in smoothies, wine, or as a liqueur, and their sour-sweet profile can bring fresh flavor to any cocktail, if substituted in for other fruit juices. In fact, grenadine, a common cocktail component, is traditionally a sweet pomegranate syrup.

But it’s not just the juice that’s to die for; dried pomegranate seeds are great in granola, baked goods, and trail mixes.

And, of course, the fresh seeds are a juicy treat, great for healthy snacking. Pomegranates feature in cuisine all throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, in uses that are both sweet and savory. In India, the dried seeds are ground and used in chutney. Iranians use a thickened syrup made from pomegranate juice to stew chicken or duck in a dish called fesenjan.

Often the prospect of deseeding a pomegranate can be a real bummer, and might turn you away from the fruit. For those of you who like the taste of pomegranates but hate laboring away, picking seeds out of the white pith inside, there’s a simple way to get at those tasty little pips.

Simply get a big bowl of water, a wooden spoon, and a pomegranate. Just cut the pomegranate in half and, holding the cut side down against the surface of the water, beat the back of it with your spoon. The seeds will sink in the water, leaving the white membrane to float along the surface, easy to skim off. Then just drain the seeds and enjoy!


 

Persian Honey Glazed Chicken & Jeweled Rice
Ingredients for the Chicken:

  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 chicken thighs
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-4 tsp. honey
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Ingredients for the Jeweled Rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked Basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 med. yellow onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4 tsp. honey
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • Pomegranate arils

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then season the chicken with the turmeric, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Pan cook chicken until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F, flipping halfway through—then, when it’s almost done, drizzle on honey.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions, then heat butter in a pan on medium-high until melted and sizzling. Add the onion and garlic before drizzling on the honey and cook until the onion is browned.
  3. Add cooked rice, cranberries, garlic, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, salt, and pepper to the pan, then adjust seasonings to taste, allowing it to cook for a few minutes. Top rice with the chicken some pomegranate arils, and fresh chopped parsley, then enjoy!
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Cranberry Pomegranate Pound Cake
Ingredients for the Cake:

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar 3 large eggs
  • 1 orange, zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds

Ingredients For The Glaze:

  • 4 oz. cream, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • ½ orange, zest

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F before greasing and flouring the bundt cake pan and setting it aside. Cream butter and sugar together for three to four minutes, then add eggs, beating at least one minute per egg.
  2. Combine salt, flour, and baking powder into a bowl before adding these dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to the butter mixture. Add the orange zest and carefully fold in the fruits before transferring the dough to a bundt cake pan and baking for 60 minutes. Like usual, let the bundt cake cool 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack.

 

For the Glaze:

  1. Mix cream cheese and sugar, then beat in orange zest and orange juice until incorporated, thinning the glaze with water if it’s too thick. Pour glaze over cake, top with pomegranate seeds, and serve.
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