Pomegranates pack a punch

Col­or­ful pomegranates pack a nu­tri­tious punch

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Emily Ryan

What in­gre­di­ent works equally well in a smoothie, salad, hum­mus or vodka? It’s pome­gran­ate, a su­per­food which will soon be in sea­son.

“Pomegranates are amaz­ing. I like the tart­ness,” said chef Mor­gan Young of The Red House Cater­ing and Love in a Bowl, Soups from The Red House — a Kim­ber­ton-based meal de­liv­ery ser­vice.

Split open a pome­gran­ate to re­veal jewel-like ar­ils, or seed pods.

“When you bite into them, the juice just ex­plodes in your mouth,” he de­scribed. “It’s tart and sweet and rich.”

For his pome­gran­ate salad with arugula, figs and al­monds, Young re­duces pome­gran­ate juice, cook­ing off the acid for “con­cen­trated sweet­ness and rich­ness.” That re­duc­tion works well atop roasted lentils and veg­eta­bles too — a recipe from his mother and cater­ing part­ner, chef Jenny Young.

An­other op­tion: Sprin­kle ar­ils over rice or quinoa “for a pop of color and fla­vor,” sug­gested chef Emily Scott of West Ch­ester.

And for break­fast, she makes a pomegranate­topped red vel­vet smoothie, which is “very health­ful, but tastes like a treat.”

“Pomegranates are great be­cause they re­ally hold up well un­der re­frig­er­a­tion,” Scott ex­plained. “I’ll cut off both ends, slice around the skin into quar­ters, pull apart and then en­joy pick­ing out the seeds through­out the week. You don’t have to eat them all at once be­cause they stay crisp and sweet.”

Red Vel­vet Smoothie IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

3 ripe ba­nanas

1 to 2 cups frozen cher­ries 2 tea­spoons vanilla ex­tract

2 cups fresh spinach

1 to 2 ta­ble­spoons ca­cao pow­der

Ap­prox­i­mately 16 ounces cold wa­ter Pome­gran­ate seeds Dark choco­late chips

IN­STRUC­TIONS

In a high-pow­ered blender, com­bine ba­nanas, frozen cher­ries, vanilla ex­tract, spinach, ca­cao pow­der and enough cold wa­ter to blend to your de­sired con­sis­tency. (I used about 16 ounces wa­ter.) Top with pome­gran­ate seeds and dark choco­late chips. Makes two large smooth­ies. RECIPE COUR­TESY OF CHEF EMILY SCOTT

Pome­gran­ate Salad IN­GRE­DI­ENTS Dress­ing:

2 large juicy pomegranates, quar­tered and di­vided

1 ta­ble­spoon shal­lot, minced

¾ cup av­o­cado oil 1 tea­spoon fresh lime juice Sea salt and and freshly ground black pep­per to taste

Salad:

Baby arugula

1/3 cup sliced, toasted al­monds

3 to 4 large fresh figs quar­tered (black prefer­ably, or green if black are not avail­able)

Seeds from re­served 2 pome­gran­ate quar­ters

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Dress­ing: Into a colan­der over a bowl, squeeze 6 of the pome­gran­ate quar­ters, (re­serv­ing re­main­ing 2 quar­ters). Press hard on the seeds. Yields a cup of juice. Pour juice through a fine sieve into small saucepan. Add shal­lot; bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and sim­mer un­til re­duced by half (8 to 10 min­utes). Cool, whisk in av­o­cado oil grad­u­ally and add salt and pep­per to taste. Whisk in lime juice. Store in jar with tight-fit­ting lid. Shake well be­fore us­ing. Yield about 1 cup

In a large bowl, add 6 gen­er­ous hand­fuls of baby arugula and the figs. Toss with about half the dress­ing (do not over­dress). Gar­nish with toasted al­monds and pome­gran­ate seeds. Re­main­ing dress­ing may be served sep­a­rately with the salad if you wish or will keep in re­frig­er­a­tor for about a week. RECIPE COUR­TESY OF CHEF MOR­GAN YOUNG

Roast Lentils & Veg­eta­bles with Pome­gran­ate

I like to use the re­duced pome­gran­ate juice on roast lentils and veg­eta­bles, and serve the dress­ing on the side for peo­ple to sprin­kle on as they wish.

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

4 cups Puy lentils, rinsed 2 cups but­ter­nut squash, peeled in 2-inch dice 4 shal­lots, halved 2 car­rots, washed halved length­wise and cut in 3-inch pieces

6 baby turnips halved (or 2 medium turnips cut in 2-inch pieces)

4 parsnips, washed peeled, halved length­wise and cut in 3-inch pieces

2 cups washed cauliflower flo­rets Ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil 2 ta­ble­spoons honey Sea salt and freshly ground black pep­per

1 ta­ble­spoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 ta­ble­spoon fresh rose­mary, finely chopped

½ cup freshly squeezed pome­gran­ate juice

½ cup pome­gran­ate dress­ing (see Pome­gran­ate Salad recipe)

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Put lentils in large saucepan, cover with wa­ter by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and sim­mer un­til al­most ten­der, 30 to 35 min­utes. (Check wa­ter level of­ten and add more if needed.)

Pre­heat oven to 425 de­grees. Toss pre­pared veg­eta­bles in a large bowl with olive oil and 1 to 2 tea­spoons sea salt. Place soft­ened lentils in oiled bak­ing dish, sea­son with salt and pep­per. Stir in rose­mary and thyme and a ta­ble­spoon of olive oil. Roast un­cov­ered 20 to 30 min­utes.

Empty out veg­eta­bles onto large bak­ing tray, and place veg­eta­bles and lentils in the oven. Roast, turn­ing veg­eta­bles once for about 20 to 30 min­utes or un­til veg­eta­bles are lightly browned. (You should check them sev­eral times, and re­move any which are cook­ing more quickly to a dish.) Spoon lentils onto a serv­ing dish, ar­range roast veg­eta­bles on top. Driz­zle with the honey and dress with pome­gran­ate juice. Serve some pome­gran­ate dress­ing on the side for sprin­kling RECIPE COUR­TESY OF CHEF JENNY YOUNG

POM POMS Loaded Hum­mus IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

2 (15-ounce) cans chick­peas

1 tea­spoon bak­ing soda 1/3 cup lemon juice 3 cloves gar­lic

1 tea­spoon kosher salt ½ cup sesame tahini ¼ tea­spoon ground cumin 2 ta­ble­spoons hot wa­ter Toasted whole-wheat pita Baby ro­maine leaves Top­pings: POM POMS fresh ar­ils Chopped flat-leaf pars­ley Olive oil

Sliced red onion Sliced cu­cum­ber Toasted pine nuts Sautéed mush­rooms Olives

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Put chick­peas and liq­uid into a saucepan, then cover the chick­peas with wa­ter to 1 inch higher than the beans. Add bak­ing soda and bring to a boil. Boil 5 min­utes, then drain and rinse chick­peas in hot wa­ter. While chick­peas boil, in a food pro­ces­sor com­bine the lemon juice, gar­lic, salt, tahini and cumin. Pulse and then let sit un­til the chick­peas are cooked. Add the hot chick­peas to the food pro­ces­sor and blend un­til smooth, scrap­ing the bowl as needed. Driz­zle in a ta­ble­spoon of wa­ter at a time un­til de­sired con­sis­tency is achieved. Serve on a plat­ter with toasted pitas, ro­maine leaves, POM POMS and other top­pings. Serves 6. RECIPE COUR­TESY OF POM WON­DER­FUL

Pome­gran­ate Vodka IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

1 to 2 cups fresh pome­gran­ate seeds

750 milliliters vodka (your fa­vorite brand will do)

IN­STRUC­TIONS

In a clean jar, mud­dle the fresh pome­gran­ate seeds with a mud­dler or wooden spoon. Pour over the vodka, seal the con­tainer and place on the counter away from sun­light. Shake the jar once a day for any­where from 2 days to 2 months. For a small batch, one week is enough time to suf­fi­ciently in­fuse the vodka. RECIPE COUR­TESY OF WOLFF’S AP­PLE HOUSE

Here’s how to open a pome­gran­ate, ac­cord­ing to POM Won­der­ful.

CUT: Cut off the top about ½ inch from the crown. SCORE: You’ll see four to six sec­tions of the pome­gran­ate di­vided by white mem­brane. Score the skin along each sec­tion. OPEN: Care­fully pull the pome­gran­ate apart over a bowl of wa­ter. LOOSEN: Gen­tly pry the ar­ils loose with your thumbs. The plump, juicy seeds will sink to the bot­tom. Scoop away what floats to the top.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Choose a pome­gran­ate that feels heavy for its size.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CHEF EMILY SCOTT

Start your day with this pome­gran­ate-topped smoothie.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF POM WON­DER­FUL

Add pome­gran­ate ar­ils to home­made hum­mus for a juicy crunch.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Ac­cord­ing to the Pome­gran­ate Coun­cil, one medium pome­gran­ate pro­duces about a three-fourths cup of ar­ils or a half-cup of cup of juice.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Pomegranates boast an­tiox­i­dants, vi­ta­min C, potas­sium and fiber.

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