The Pom Above

It’s Spring again, and, after a long hiatus, I’m hoping to get back into the blogging habit. If you’re anything like me, Spring (meaning April or later here in New England) means a new pair of shoes, a renewed commitment to regular exercise, a slightly reduced butter consumption, taking pictures of the same flowers you already have dozens of pictures of, and new beginnings for projects you abandoned in favor of winter’s hibernation phase.

Being able to spend time outside in the almost-warm sunshine is a special treat, especially after all the snow this past winter… and early Spring. But entire days out in the sun can come as a bit of a shock to the system. In some of us, it can provoke feelings of a frustrated-like rage, insomnia, sudden changes in digestion, sunburns… It’s great to feel that sudden burst of energy, but when it has nothing to hold it down, and no where constructive to go, Spring can get a little uncomfortable. Enter the pomegranate.

pomegranate3I tend to associate pomegranates with spring, despite the fact that I tend to eat them more in the fall and winter, when they’re actually in season. I think it has to do with the Greek myth of Persephone, one of the goddesses of the Spring, who was seduced into the underworld with some pomegranate seeds. Still, even though fresh pomegranates aren’t so fresh this time of year, given the ready availability of pomegranate juice, dried pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses and hyped-up supplements, they’re still worth talking about.

pomegranate2In the past, I have recommended bitter greens to assuage some of the above mentioned affects. I still recommend them. I’ve found myself craving green anything- asparagus, arugula, dandelion, fiddleheads… some of it isn’t even available yet. Bitter foods are great for the Liver, the organ most likely to get out of whack this time of year. But,  it’s still important to balance some of the bitterness, so to speak. Sweet helps, and I’ve found that there really is nothing better for augmenting bitter leafy greens than pomegranate. Pomegranate seeds are great additions to stir fries, pilafs, and as a garnish on roasted asparagus. My favorite way to use them, however, is as the main component of a sweet, ruby-red vinaigrette , great on salads, grains and sandwiches. pomegranate1

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, pomegranate is used as a “yin” tonic, meaning it can help ground some of that bubbling springtime energy. In the Western Medical world, pomegranates have been praised for their antioxidant benefits, antifungal properties, ability to lower blood pressure, and prevent sunburns. Either way, for Spring, you can’t really go wrong.

Pomegranate-Walnut-Mustard Dressing

IMG_0091I’m really not a fan of bottled pomegranate juice. It tends to be from concentrate and mixed with cranberry juice. It’ll work in a pinch, but you’re really better off just buying a fruit and extracting the juice yourself- which may mean waiting to make this until fall. A lot of people seem to be scared of dissecting their own pomegranates, but it’s not too difficult, just be sure to wear an apron. Cut the pomegranate in half and bend each half in half to reveal the seeds. Continue to pull the fruit apart, discarding the membrane and collecting the seeds in a bowl. You can then eat the seeds whole, or blend them in a food processor and strain the small pit things from the center. The juice freezes well, in case you get as addicted to it as I am. 

This recipe is more of a taste-as-you-go-along type of thing, but here are some proportions to get you started. Feel free to sub in cranberry juice or a tablespoon or two of pomegranate molasses for the fresh juice, use a different type of oil, or try lime juice instead of lemon for a different variation. This recipe makes more than enough for one huge 2-person salad. But it’s so yummy you’ll welcome the leftovers. So good on arugula!!!

  • Juice extracted from the seeds of 1 pomegranate
  •  1 1/2 TB Dijon mustard
  • 3-4 TB walnut oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • juice of 1/2-1 lemon

whisk together the pomegranate juice and the mustard. Add the oil in a stream- the mustard will help emulsify the oil and thicken the dressing. Add the salt and juice of 1/2 a lemon. Taste to see if you like the balance of sour to sweet. Add more lemon, salt and mustard if desired.

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