Wednesday, October 28, 2009


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.


  1. I've never had a pomegranate. I've always wondered what they taste like.

  2. Daphne, I'm really bad at describing the flavors of things, but I'll give pomegranates a shot. It's something like a sweet-tart apple crossed with a berry. But the experience of eating pomegranate seeds is somewhat unique, you get a big burst of juice first and then the crunch of the seeds. Not like grapes because the pomegranate arils don't have noticeable skins or pulp, just juice and seeds and lots of sweet-tart flavor. My husband normally doesn't like seedy things like grapes with seeds, but he'll happily crunch through pomegranate seeds.

  3. That salad sounds pretty great. Our market now has an olive bar I'm spending some significant green on. . . But pomegranites don't last that long here.

    The woman at Berkeley Hort told me not to bother with a pomegranite tree, as we're so marginal for them. I guess it's another lemon or a fig or a loquat for us. As though it's a sacrifice!

  4. Stefani, I'm a regular at the olive bar also. After doing a little more reading about growing pomegranates I'm thinking that I probably don't have enough heat to ripen them properly so I'm going for an extra fig or mulberry instead. Sacrifice indeed!

  5. I love pomegranates too, and the trees look great so I'd like one in the garden one day, but they don't always ripen properly here either. This salad sounds delicious and, as you say it, will go with lots of other things ... I'll have to try it when I buy some pomegranates.

  6. I don't like pomegranates at all, they're so tart and pithy, but that salad does sound good!

  7. chaiselongue, you're right, they are good looking trees and the flowers are amazing. One would be worth growing for the ornamental value alone.

    Jan, pomegranate varieties vary widely in how sweet or tart they are, perhaps you've only had tart ones?

  8. Michelle,

    Sounds like a good recipe to me. We have another on our blog for spiced pears and pomograntes that we have made twice already this year. Noticed the stores here in NC are getting $3 for a large pomogrante up about a $1 from last year.

  9. Randy, wow, $3 apiece! I have to admit that I bought a box of 6 humongous ones at Costco and don't remember the price but it wasn't that much. I wonder why the price jump? Now I'm going to check out your recipe...

  10. I grew up with a pomegranate tree in the backyard. Good things, p-trees, but, as you say, the fruit is good from the store, too.

    I have a p-tree in my backyard right now, but it didn't produce fruit this year. Late freeze. Overall, bad year for produce at my house. ;-)

    Anyway, love the sound of the salad. I'll give it a try. Oh, and I like pecans for a substitute for walnuts, but then, I'm partial to pecans, since they are the big nut crop here.

  11. Oh, I just love them! But recently, I've had more than one that looked great on the outside and was rotten all the way through. Any idea how I can tell?

  12. Susan, between squirrels and weather, produce did have a hard time in your garden this year! Pecans, mmmm, love them. Lucky you to have a ready supply. They would be a delicious addition to the salad.

    Town Mouse, Huh, I've not had a problem with bad pomegranates unless I let them sit around for a long time. Generally, if the skin is shiny and the fruit feels heavy and firm then it is good.

  13. I love pomegranates, but this year I did not taste one... I dont know why.

  14. vrtlarica, the pomegranate season is short and sometimes it's gone before you knew it even started...

  15. Your husband is a very lucky man. I have to remember to read your blog only on a full stomach--your food details always make me hungry!


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