They have a short season--available from November through January—so now is the time to pick up a few. They are touted as having a high concentration of antioxidants, and to possess heart-healthy properties. The seeds provide a high fiber content, and a considerable amount of potassium and vitamin C. In their native habitat, they’ve been used for centuries in folk medicine, to treat all sort of ailments, including sore throats and rheumatism. But that’s not why we like them…they also taste good!
Don’t be intimidated by their appearance. A pomegranate isn’t exactly a beauty contest winner. About the size of an orange, it has a tough dull reddish skin. But within lies the treasure: hundreds of little seeds surrounded by a delicious sweet-tart ruby red pulp. This is the part used to flavor and color grenadine, or to simmer down into pomegranate syrup (also known as pomegranate molasses).
To extract the seeds, you can simply cut off about ?" of the cap, score down the sides and pull sections apart, loosening the seeds from the bitter membranes with your fingers. A word of advice: Do not do this wearing your favorite white cashmere sweater!
I like to eat the little seeds right from the fruit, or scatter them over a garden salad for a burst of color and flavor. They make a wonderful addition to a winter citrus fruit salad. Sprinkle them over grilled or broiled fish instead of lemon juice. Or you can add them to guacamole or hummus for extra tang and zip.
Right before the last Wine Blog Wednesday, I had bought a couple and was trying to think of something new to do with them. I was making pasta for dinner…and here’s what came of it. It was quickly done, and I thought it was really yummy. A crisp green salad and crusty bread makes it a perfect weekend meal. But don’t wait too long to try it--in another few weeks the season will be over!
FETTUCCINE WITH CHICKEN AND POMEGRANATE
1 lb boneless chicken breast
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 tbsp butter
4 shallots, peeled and minced
1 tbsp fresh mint, shredded (see note)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
Seeds of one pomegranate
12 oz fettuccine
Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish
Cut the chicken breast into 1" chunks. In a flat bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken chunks in the flour, shaking off the excess. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. When hot, add the chicken pieces, a few at a time to avoid crowding. Cook until golden on each side. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan and cook, stirring, until tender and translucent, without browning.
Add the wine to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and ? of the pomegranate seeds. Cook uncovered for another five minutes.
Meanwhile, bring plenty of well-salted water to a boil and cook the fettuccine until just barely al dente. Drain and add to the pan with the hot sauce. Toss well and serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining pomegranate seeds and topped with a sprig of fresh thyme.
NOTES: If you can’t find fresh mint, leave it out and use 1-1/2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves. If you don’t have shallots, you can use about 1/4 cup minced onion with one clove minced garlic instead. I didn’t think it needed grated cheese, but if you think pasta is naked without it, I would suggest pecarino romano as a good choice.