As we officially roll into autumn, I’m noticing some of my favorite seasonal fall fruits emerge.
From passionfruit and pataya, to guavas, pears, and apples, such items make the absence of the summer stone fruit much more tolerable.
This week, I purchased my first pomegranates of the season, another locally harvested product that takes the spotlight this time of year. Pomegranates possess a hard thick peel that can be found in white, yellow, pink, red and purple. Once opened, the intricate pockets of tightly packed small red beads are exposed, which is the edible portion of the pomegranate.
These small beads contain the red flesh surrounded by a small seed, both of which are edible.
For those who have had a bottle of pomegranate juice, these beads have been pressed to release the juice from the flesh, with the seeds inevitably discarded. The flesh itself possesses a nice bold tangy flavor, and the seed is slightly bitter.
Pomegranates are highly sought for their high levels of antioxidants, derived from their dark red flesh. Consumed fresh with the seeds, however, they additionally deliver an abundance of dietary fiber. In one medium pomegranate, consuming both flesh and seeds, you get 11 grams, or 45% of your daily recommended dietary fiber.
It additionally provides 5 grams of protein and almost 50% of your daily recommended vitamin C. They are also a good source of vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron and along with decent amounts of many other essential vitamins and minerals.
Once home, you should store your pomegranates on the countertop until ready to eat. They will hold fresh for about two weeks. They can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Pomegranates have several great uses. They’re excellent when taken on a long hike for a boost of energy, enjoyed straight out of the peel. They are also delicious when enjoyed in a mixed green or spinach salad, when added to your steamed rice, in curry dishes, or when used to top a rich homemade soup.
I find pomegranate pair extremely well with fresh fish, especially when served with a flavorful broth as well as chicken and pork.
This week I prepared a kale pomegranate salad with roasted carrots and beets, avocado, feta cheese and a homemade pomegranate vinaigrette.
Kale, Roasted Carrot, Beet, and Pomegranate Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1 bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves rinsed and dried.
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into long, thin strips.
2 beets, peeled and cut into small cubes.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
Salt and pepper.
1 pomegranate, skin and white membrane discarded (1/2 of the seeds for the salad topper and ½ of the seeds for the dressing recipe below.
1 medium firm-ripe avocado cut into thin slices.
¼ cup feta cheese or chevre,
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Chop kale into very small pieces and place them in a mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble salad. Toss the carrots and beets in olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Place on a single layer baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and cook for about 20 minutes. Then toss beets and turn carrots and cook for a final 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Toss kale with a few tablespoons of your pomegranate salad dressing. (I usually massage the dressing using clean hands to help tenderize the kale.) Top salad with roasted carrots and beets, avocado slices, remaining [pomegranate seeds and cheese. Drizzle top with a final tablespoon of dressing.
Yield: Serves 4 salads.
For the dressing
½ of the seeds from the pomegranate above.
1/3 cup olive oil.
2 tablespoons honey.
Juice from 1 lemon.
1 large garlic clove.
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (can also use white balsamic or red wine vinegars).
1 tablespoon Dijon.
Pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Place all contents in a blender and blend until very smooth. You want to make sure all of the pomegranate seeds are very finely blended. Refrigerate and mix well before serving.