Steeped in history and romance and almost in a class by itself, the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility in many countries and a very popular fruit all over the mediterranean to the Middle East.
The “Granada”, as it is known in Spain, is a round fruit with a thick, leathery red skin. Inside it contains large white seeds that are covered in small sacks of pinkish-red juicy sweet pulp. It is fiddly to eat but the juice is well worth extracting for refreshing, long drinks or to marinate and flavour chicken, lamb or game.
It is regarded to be a tenderiser for meat and the juice is also used to flavour the sickly-sweet French liquor “Grenadine”. Loosen the flesh by rolling the whole pomegranate on a hard surface, pressing down with your hand. Then cut in half and scoop out the centre with a spoon. Remove the white pith, as it is bitter. Alternatively, eat the flesh straight from the skin. To extract the juice, place the seeds in a sieve and press with the back of a spoon or use a lemon squeezer.
This anti-oxidant powerhouse can actually help keep us out of the grave and Pomegranate juice is rich in vitamin C but it also stains, so be careful when preparing them. Pomegranates combine well with walnuts, figs, bananas, cream cheese and pistachios. A simple orange salad can be transformed into something special with the addition of a few pomegranate seeds.
The other day I was very relieved and surprised to find pomegranate molasses tucked away in a little spice shop in the olivar market here in Palma. I was hunting it to put a little finishing touch to my Turkish spoon salad that I was preparing for a dinner with friends. I’d almost forgotten how good pomegranate molasses can be. It’s so sweet and acidic at the same time and has the consistency of ketchup with a deep, burgundy red colour. It can be used in salad dressings and sauces, in cocktails, marinades or cakes. It can become your secret ingredient weapon for making anything and everything taste interesting, slightly exotic, and just generally delicious. You could try making your own as pomegranates are coming into season right now.
Muhammara is a red-hot Syrian dip. If you love Baba Ganoush and Hummus then you will absolutely salivate all over this delicious mixture of peppers, walnuts & pomegranate. Its quick & easy to make and the perfect thing for your next BBQ.
- 3 red peppers
- 60g fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and optional
- 80g walnuts
- 30ml tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 30ml olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Put the peppers on a tray and roast for 30-35 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked and the skin is blackened. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling-film and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and seeds. Pat the peppers dry, and place in a food processor. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, molasses, cumin, paprika, cayenne and garlic. Pulse to form a thick paste. Add the olive oil and season to taste.
POMEGRANATE MARINATED SHOULDER OF LAMB
This recipe is from my brand-new cookbook - Modern Mediterranean: Sun-drenched recipes from Mallorca and beyond. Out now on Amazon!
- 2 shoulders of lamb
- 150ml Pomegranate juice
- 6 cumin seeds
- 100ml Dry red wine
- 2 Large red onions
- 1 Lemon (chopped)
- 3 Cloves garlic
- 10 Black peppercorns (ground)
- 10 fresh basil leaves (torn)
- Pinch of salt
In blender, combine pomegranate juice, red wine, onions, lemon, garlic, pepper, basil and salt. Rub some of marinade well into lamb. Place the shoulders in shallow glass or enamel pan. Pour the remaining marinade over meat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, wipe off excess marinade.
Roast the lamb shoulders in a hot oven (200cº/400fº/gas6) for 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to a moderate (160cº/220fº/gas 4) heat and cook for 40-45 minutes, basting now and again with the marinade.
Leave to rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
TOMATO, POMEGRANATE AND FETA SALAD
- 450g cherry tomatoes (a mixture of colours also looks really nice)
- 2 small shallots, sliced very finely lengthways
- 150g feta cheese, drained
- 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 fresh mint leaves
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them into a bowl. Add the finely sliced shallots, the white balsamic vinegar, pomegranate molasses, honey and olive oil. Season and mix well. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta cheese and garnish with fresh mint. Serve immediately.