Pomegranate Relish or Dressing

Pomegranate Dressing or Relish

It’s pretty easy to clean a pomegranate, just cut it in half and pull the edges than knock it on the outside with a spoon and the seeds fall out. However, at Harvest Share this week, I got two packages of already cleaned pomegranate seeds. Sadly, however, they were already past their sweet spot and had turned sour and vinegary. I know some people would toss it out, since it was beginning to change, but pomegranate is acidic and just being past its prime does not make it a home for bacteria, just very sour flavor. I knew I could fix it and enjoy this fruit I really love. I just had to figure out how. Since it was already very vinegary, it made sense to use it as a sort of vinegar and make a salad dressing or a relish. But first I had to figure out what could balance the sourness. I pulled out aromatic spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and anise and tried a few grains with one pomegranate seed to see what I liked best. Both the nutmeg and the cardamon tried, but they added heat as well as balance and I wanted to make it more mellow, so I chose anise.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 8 oz pomegranate seeds
  • 4 TBSP rice vinegar

I put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan with ½ tsp of anise seed and heated to release the oils and flavor the oil. I then added 2 tsp of minced fresh ginger. I sliced ½ of a yellow onion into slivers and added to the olive oil, cooking until tender. I then added the 8 oz package of pomegranate seeds and cooked just until it started to break down. I added 4 TBSP of  rice vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. This made enough dressing for 4 large salads. It would also work well as a relish on the side where you might use cranberries, with pork, turkey, or sausage.

Here are a few salads made with the dressing. A simple salad with pecans and feta. A dinner salad with chicken sautéed with a bit of Old Bay. A dinner salad with some carne asada marinated in soy sauce and vinegar with some garlic, pears charred on the electric burner, and feta cheese.

 

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Cucumber and Pomegranate Salad with Cilantro and Feta

Cucumber Pomegranate Salad

I experiment a lot with cooking. Not everything works and when it doesn’t, it does not make it to this blog. The other day I mixed some cut up grapes with pomegranate and chèvre. It did not work. It was too sweet and needed more contrast. I thought I was on the right track though and decided to try feta because it is more sour, but still nice and creamy. Just went I started to make the salad, though, I veered off in a new direction and ended up with a great salad that explodes with flavors.

I started with about 1/2 cup of pomegranate. It is 1/2 the seeds from one pomegranate. I pulled out some green grapes from the fridge and noticed I had 1/3 of a cucumber in a plastic storage container, left over from a cucumber on rye sandwich and the side salad with my fish the other day.  I thought I had better use that cucumber soon so, I put the grapes back in the fridge for another time and peeled and cut the cucumber into small pieces. I cut it lengthwise into quarters and then cut the juicy seeds out and just snacked on them. I did not want them in the salad because they would make it watery. Then I cut the long strips in half again and lined them up and sliced horizontally, giving me pieces similar in size to the pomegranate seeds.

I took a small handful of cilantro and chopped it and tossed it in. Use anywhere from 2 TBSP to 1/4 cup depending on how much you love cilantro. I sprinkled a couple TBSP of feta on top and then added a dash of salt and pepper. I tossed with 2 tsp of red wine vinegar and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Cucumber Pomegranate Salad

 

Here’s why this worked, the cucumber has a mellow, spring flavor that offsets the intense sweet-sour tang of the pomegranate. The cilantro adds a bit of earthiness and the feta adds a creamy flavor with some fat, which really helps the flavors blend and the acid in the vinegar brings out all the flavors to their fullest.

Bulgur with Celery, Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Spinach, Feta and Grapefruit Onion Vinaigrette

Couscous Salad with Grapefruit Onion Vinaigrette

I made some bulgur while I made my morning tea, adding two cups of boiling water to 1 cup of bulgur and leaving it io absorb the liquid. It was tender and ready for salad later in the day when I was making lunch.

I started by cutting the flesh from a grapefruit. To supreme a grapefruit, cut away the peel and then slice the wedges. I cut this on cutting board to capture all the grapefruit juice that gets squeezed out in the process no matter how hard you try to avoid it. I cut the wedges to avoid any skin and pith and then tossed the juice on the cutting board and the skin and grapefruit left on the skin when cutting wedges into a sauce pan to flavor a vinaigrette. I added about 3 TBSP of chopped onions and cooked them with a bit of olive oil and the grapefruit remnants. I added about 2 tsp of sugar and some white wine vinegar. The vinaigrette was tart and sweet and delicious. I removed the grapefruit bits and left the onions.

I added the grapefruit segments from the grapefruit plus thinly sliced pieces from two stalks of celery, about 1/4 cup of pomegranate, 2 cups of chopped spinach, 1 cup of chopped cilantro, 6 toasted and chopped almonds and 1/4 cup of feta. I then added the bulgur and the vinaigrette and let the flavors marry for about an hour before serving.

The bulgur have it a hearty foundation and the grapefruit and pomegranate added a nice light sourness. The vinaigrette was slightly sweet. The salad was a rich combination of flavors. The next time I make it, though, I might try added some dried cherries, too. Makes 4 servings.

Spinach, Pomegranate, Apple and Couscous Salad

Spinach, Apple, Pomegranate Couscous Salad

It was a hot day today. I went to the World’s Largest Louie Louie Sing-A-Long downtown so I was not interested in cooking or making anything difficult, but I wanted some rich and complex flavors. I kind of just started with some couscous and added what appealed until I ended up with something scrumptious.

  • 1/3 cup of couscous
  • 2/3rd cup of boiling water
  • Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 1/3rd cup chopped red onion
  • 10 toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, chopped.
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

I took 1/3 cup of couscous and poured  2/3rds cup of boiling water on top of it in a small bowl and put a lid on it. While it absorbed the boiling water, I prepped a pomegranate. I used all the seeds from half of a pomegranate.

There is a fast and easy way to prep pomegranates. Carefully cut through the skin without cutting deep, leaving the pomegranate seeds whole. Once you have cut through, give a little twist and it will separate into two halves. Take a half and pull and twist the edge a bit to loosen it, then turn it upside down in the palm of your hand and whack it hard over and over and all the seeds will fall out. I only needed half a pomegranate, but I cleaned both halves and stored half the seeds in a plastic container for another day.

I toasted some almonds in a clean dry skillet and chopped them in half after they cooled.

I cleaned and chopped a bunch of fresh spinach, chopped up some red onion and tossed them in with the pomegranates and couscous. I added some salt and pepper, the feta and toasted almonds.

I then chopped up 1/2 of a granny smith apple and tossed in some balsamic vinegar.

I put a lid on the bowl I was mixing this all up in, shook it up a bit and refrigerated for about an hour.

This was delicious and so rich in texture from the crispy apple, crunchy almonds, tender couscous and the juicy bursts of pomegranate. The flavor is grounded in the couscous, the spinach adds a nice fresh taste, the red onions a bit of heat, the apples some sweetness, the almonds some umame and the pomegranate a lovely sweet-sour tang. The feta gives a bit of richness, making it all come together in this big explosion of flavor and texture and color.

Makes two servings.