Ok, this post is only minimally related to my garden but I had to share anyway. I love pomegranates! When they come in season I buy a bunch and put them in a bowl on the dining table where I can admire them and get inspired to use them in various ways. Perhaps I'll actually plant a tree someday, but in the meantime I'm happy to buy them.
I have to say, I'm not trying to be self sustaining in all things from the garden. California produces some of the most amazing produce and I'm perfectly happy to take advantage of the best that's out there and I think that the commercially grown pomegranates are fantastic. Hmm, I was about to say wonderful, but that's actually the variety name of the fruit grown by the largest commercial grower in the state. Chances are, if you are buying pomegranates from a store anywhere in the U.S. you are buying that producer's fruit. But, I still think their fruit is, um, really good.
Actually, back in my Master Gardener days, I had the opportunity to taste a lot of different pomegranate varieties side by side. Do you know what my favorite variety was? Just take a wild guess. Can't figure it out? Well, it happened to be what the big guys are growing. That made it so much easier to put off planting my own tree.
Anyway, after admiring that bowl of ruby fruit for about a week I started looking for recipes. I came across a recipe for a Turkish salad that had walnuts, green olives, pistachios, and pomegranate seeds. That sounded great to me, but my husband is not crazy about walnuts, so I started improvising and here's what I came up with. It is different enough from the original recipe that I feel quite comfortable calling it my own.
Pomegranate, Almond, and Green Olive Salad
- 1 cup fresh pomegranate arils (seeds)
- 3/4 cup sliced raw almonds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup pitted Cerignola olives, or another mild non-vinegary green olive such as Lucques or Picholine
- 1 sweet red pepper (I used Donkey Ears, a non-bell type from my garden)
- 1 fresh chile pepper, mild or spicy to your taste (Christmas Bell from my garden)
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 small clove garlic, peeled
- Coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- The juice of one small meyer lemon
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (concentrate)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Chop the olives and sweet peppers (remove the seeds and ribs) into bits about the same size as the pomegranate arils. Remove the seeds and ribs from the chile pepper, or not as you prefer, the heat is concentrated in the seeds and ribs if that is an issue for you. Mince the chile pepper. Combine the pomegranate arils, almonds, chopped olives, peppers, and parsley in a bowl.
Smash the garlic with some coarse salt to make a puree. Whisk together the garlic, additional salt to taste, olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and black pepper. Pour over the salad and toss gently to blend.
Last night I piled the salad on top of pork loin that I had sliced thin and pounded out like scallopini, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of flour and quickly panfried in olive oil. It was a winning combination. I'm going to try the leftover salad on top of some panfried eggplant slices tonight, if I don't just eat it by the spoonful for lunch today. My husband and I sat at the dinner table last night thinking of other things the salad would be good on/with. He thought fish, I thought baked goat cheese... I think I'm going to have to make some more! What do you think?
Oh, and as an aside, if you are looking for ways to use pomegranates and pomegranate juice, the big grower's website is loaded with recipes. Just google Pee-Ooh-eM, or pomegranate, you'll find them. Full disclosure, I have absolutely no affiliation with the aforementioned big pomegranate growers, I just like their stuff.