One thing I love about living in the Middle East is the vast quantity of fresh pomegranates that seem to always be available. They are so cheap, and I love being able to order to many foods here that contain delicious pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top.
As some our blog followers may know, we have a slight obsession with pomegranate molasses over here on midEATS. I tend to sauté my onions in a dollop of pomegranate molasses in my kibbe, which adds a depth of flavor that cannot be compared. I sneak it into my muhammara, which contrasts nicely with the toasted walnuts and roasted red peppers. My favorite dish is fasanjoon, which really features the tart acidity and sweetness of pomegranate. Who knew walnuts and pomegranates complimented each other so well! I am also very excited to try Heba’s roast chicken that incorporates pomegranate molasses with za’atar. Yum!
According to Greek mythology, pomegranates bring good luck and symbolize good tiding. Reportedly, the Chinese eat candied pomegranate seeds for good luck! When we travelled around Spain for our honeymoon, we noticed pomegranates on hand-painted pottery. Apparently, Granada (my favorite place in Spain) is named after pomegranates!
Pomegranates, or rumman in Arabic, are packed full of antioxidants, which help buffer the effects of free radical cell damage. The deep red color of the seeds is a sign of the rich supply of antioxidant phytochemicals. The seeds also give a healthy dose of Vitamins B5, B9, and K.
Also, some helpful “lessons learned” with regard to pomegranates – pick the ones that have a hard shell (soft means its old), have a relatively even red color, and seem heavy for their size. Also, for cutting them open, be sure you are wearing an apron or something you don’t care if it gets stained. The bright red juice WILL squirt, and it is hard to remove. I cut it in half, and then turn the skin inside out, dumping the seeds and the innards into a bowl. I then fill the bowl with water, and the innards that you don’t eat float to the top. Easy peasy!
This is a super simple salad that I never had before moving to the Middle East. I enjoy it at a lebanese restaurant all the time in Abu Dhabi, and this was my attempt at recreating it at home. I think the store uses pomegranate molasses instead of balsamic vinegar, but I am in love with my balsamic vinegar, and always look for excuses to use it. Feel free to substitute the balsamic vinegar with pomegranate molasses. Try it either way, and ENJOY!
UPDATE: I ate this salad over the weekend at a restart, and they added chopped mint and red onions as well. I recreated this yesterday with the mint sans the onion, but added the pomegranate molasses, and it was delicious! Fresh mint and pomegranate are amazing together. Let us know how you like your pomegranates!