I think at Christmas their worth increases still further, because they're like a gleaming beacon of sharp, tangy freshness in a sea of greige piles of stuffing, potatoes, parsnips and turkey.
Was it this year or last or the one before that pomegranates got branded with the “superfood” tag? I can’t remember, and I don’t much care: it’s nice to see more of them about, just a shame anyone might consider that because they are amazingly healthy they are a punishment too.
I much prefer to think of them as treasure. Persephone gave up six months of sunlight just for a taste. And they’re so blinkin’ expensive in the UK, that when I found myself in Istanbul where there is a pomegranate juice cart on every corner, it felt too indulgent to have straight pomegranate juice and I drank it mixed with orange.
Short of drinking it, plenty of people seem a little confounded as to what to do with a pomegranate’s shiny scarlet seeds.
Most obviously, they’re good for breakfast with yoghurt and other fruits (especially orange) and it’s easy to make unkempt dishes such as tagines, dips and couscous and rice dishes look like they’ve had a Swarovski makeover by showering them with tiny pomegranate jewels.
I think at Christmas their worth increases still further, because they’re like a gleaming beacon of sharp, tangy freshness in a sea of greige piles of stuffing, potatoes, parsnips and turkey.
For a starter at any festive meal, go for a salad with some strong and bitter flavours. Mark Hix recommends a plate of fried chicken livers with winter leaves and pomegranate. It also goes well with prosciutto and fennel.
When it comes to actually cooking with pomegranate, you’ll need to extract (or buy) the juice, or get hold of some wonderfully sweet pomegranate molasses.
Pomegranate can turn leftover turkey into a treat. Shred the turkey and mix it with wild rice, some bitter leaves and the pomegranate. This works with a balsamic-based dressing or an Asian mix of honey, soy and sesame.
I’m not sure how I feel about the little packs of pomegranate seeds that Waitrose sells. Half of the fun of using pomegranate is picking out the seeds, section by section, and it seems a bit pampered to buy them ready seeded. That said, pomegranates really are a massive arse to deseed. Maybe that’s why Persephone stopped at six.
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