features pomegranate

-- By Merrill Maiano

Culinary Gems
Some might argue that the lovely pomegranate is hardly worth the trouble. From the outside, it looks ever so promising-the firm rosy skin is enough to make you pick it up and test its weight in your hand. But, the interior of a pomegranate completely lacks the elegant symmetry of an orange. The tart ruby fruit are crowded into random pockets in the bitter cream-colored pith, and then further separated by more bitter thin membranes.It requires patience and effort to get the little gems out of their ingenious natural packaging intact. The seeds are completely edible, although, it's said that they impart a bitter flavor if treated too roughly when crushing the fruit for juice. Savor them for their distinct, slightly sweet, acidic tang and exquisite color.------more >>

>> Stuffed Chiles with Walnut Sauce
>> Christmas Eve Salad
>> Grilled Bluefish with Pomegranate Glaze and Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
>> Pomegranate Martini

If You've Ever had a Shirley Temple
Although pomegranates are still relatively unused on the American culinary scene, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines have featured them for over a thousand years. As a fertility symbol, they inspired portrayals in the art and writing of Persia, Egypt, and Rome. In the early part of the sixteenth century, pomegranates were introduced to Central American cultures by European explorers and readily incorporated into local cooking. Using pomegranate seeds to represent the red in the Mexican flag, Chiles en Nogada is a dish of stuffed poblano chiles traditionally served on September 16th to commemorate Mexican independence from Spain. Pomegranates are also the historical source of the vibrant red in grenadine, used to flavor cocktails and Shirley Temples the world over.

Make a Mean Martini
On their own, pomegranate seeds make for a colorful garnish in appetizers, entrees and desserts. The juice can be used straight in drinks or reduced and combined with sugar to make a sort of molasses. Cooks use this thick red syrup as a glaze for fish or meats, and to add flavor and intense color to more complicated dishes. To use a pomegranate, score the skin from top to bottom in four separate quarters, being careful not to damage the delicate fruit inside. Carefully separate the quarters from one another-they should come apart quite easily. Then, gently separate the tiny red fruit from the white inner membranes. Use the four recipes above as a diving board for your own ideas.