By Barbara Beltrami
Pomegranates are such a holiday treat for eating as well as decorating. They’re expensive (what isn’t?) and their prep, scooping out the seeds, is also labor intensive and messy. However, you can buy the seeds in a container and just decorate with the pomegranates themselves whose rich red color makes a lovely holiday arrangement when they are scattered among evergreen branches. And not only are pomegranates lovely and delicious, but they are thought to have many health benefits. I like to use the seeds and/or juice in Christmas punches, green salads, and desserts, but there are so many ways to use them in all sorts of dishes from ethnic to traditional.
YIELD: Makes 12 servings
1 quart pomegranate juice
2 cups orange juice (no pulp)
2 cups chilled pink lemonade
1 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds
One 750 ml bottle chilled champagne
Lime slices for garnish
In a nice pretty sparkly punch bowl combine the pomegranate juice, orange juice, lemonade and pomegranate seeds; pour in champagne and float lime slices on top. Ladle into punch cups filled 1/3 way with crushed ice. Serve with hors d’oeuvres.
Green Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1 Belgian endive, washed and sliced
4 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked and finely chopped
In a large salad bowl combine the romaine lettuce, Belgian endive, and arugula. Cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours, but let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the champagne vinegar, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, orange juice, orange zest, salt and pepper. Pour in olive oil gradually while continuing to whisk until mixture forms an emulsion. When ready to serve salad, dress with vinegar and oil mixture, toss, then sprinkle pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts on top and serve immediately with crusty bread and soft cheeses.
Chocolate – Pomegranate Tart
YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings
One 9” pie crust
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9” round tart pan. Press pie crust into sides and bottom of pan; prick all over with tines of a dinner fork; cover with aluminum foil gently molded to shape of pan; weight with pie weights or uncooked beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile in a large heatproof bowl combine the chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, sugar and salt; stirring frequently, cook until mixture reaches a gentle simmer, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stirring constantly, pour cream mixture into chocolate mixture until chocolate and butter are melted and mixture has achieved a smooth consistency; pour into tart shell and refrigerate until filling just starts to set, about 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds, walnuts and sea salt on top of filling and refrigerate at least two hours or until completely set. Serve with crème fraîche and an assortment of liqueurs.