Pondering pomegranates (and how to use them in dishes)

By now most people are over the pomegranate thing. I remember when pomegranate juice became the “it” fruit juice, packed with antioxidants and tons of vitamins. Riding that wave to almost celebrity proportions were POM products, with their chic, minimalist label and cool shaped bottles that made them look so attractive on grocer’s shelves.

Thinking back, I think part of pomegranate’s quick ascension to craze-worthy obsession can be attributed to its mysteriousness. People knew what pomegranates were, but few had seen one in real-life, and even fewer had eaten one. To compare, let’s examine the açaí berry. Similarly shrouded in mystery, this South and Central American fruit has replaced the pomegranate as today’s fashionable health food. I don’t think I even know what one tastes like, let alone looks like. (A quick Google image search came up with dark blue berries that look suspiciously like black olives). The point is, not many people know how to use fresh pomegranates in their cooking despite the fruit’s popularity.

I myself recently pondered the pomegranate’s usefulness after finding two in the back of the family fridge. Although delicious by themselves, they can be a hassle to eat. Not only do you have to pick out each individual aril (the red kernels) from the fruit, but each aril contains an edible seed that doesn’t jive with the juiciness of the fruit. The consumer also needs to be wary of bursting arils or face the annoyance of hands and clothing drenched in blood-red juice. If you can deal with these things, then try these really simple summer recipes featuring pomegranates!

Pom punch - so refreshing!

Pomegranate Punch
(recipe makes 2 large cups)
In one of the cups you plan on using, add 5 tablespoons of pomegranate arils and 4 large basil leaves. Muddle the ingredients together. You could replace the actual pomegranate with 3 tablespoons of pomegranate juice. Add a tablespoon of honey and mix well. Then add a cup of lemonade or an Arnold Palmer mix. Strain into two new cups filled with ice. Top off with seltzer water or club soda. Garnish with basil leaves and lemon and enjoy!

Pomegranate Side-salad
Using 2-3 handfuls of pre-washed salad greens, add 1/4 cup of pomegranate arils. For dressing, juice half a lemon and mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil a small bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

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