Ruby red, to fleshy pink, pomegranates are truly nature’s treasures. They have been used in Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries, and are considered to be symbols of health, fertility and rebirth. Some experts believe it was a pomegranate, not an apple, that tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden. Ancient Egyptians were sometimes buried with the fruit, in the hope of rebirth, and today it’s still customary to break a pomegranate at Greek weddings to represent fertility.
So how can this fabulous fruit work for you?
Pomegranates have recently become a hot commodity due to their health benefits. They’re full of vitamin C, iron and fibre. They contain three times the amount of antioxidants of green tea and red wine, so they can boost your immune system, and protect your body from the everyday stresses caused by pollution, viruses and bacteria – slowing down the signs of aging, and keeping you looking lovelier for longer! Even better – pomegranate juice can work to control blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In 2001, studies carried out at the Israeli Institute for Technology, showed that extracts of pomegranates helped to destroy breast cancer cells, while leaving healthy breast cells unharmed.
To enjoy this beautiful fruit, it’s best to make a light incision into the flesh, starting at the top, and then split the pomegranate into quarters. The seeds, or arils, are encased in spongy-soft skin – be careful not to pop them or you might end up with a nasty stain. Once you remove all the seeds, you’ll be left with a sparkling bowl of berries, which are fun to snack on, and can be a super-healthy alternative to sweets. They’re also ideal to scatter on salads, cereal and ice cream. Delicious!
Want to whip up your own dish packed with the power of pomegranates? Here are two tantalising recipes to try.
Fesenjan: Chicken cooked in a pomegranate and walnut sauce (serves 4)
This sumptuous dish has Persian origins, and truly brings out the rich flavour of pemegrantates.
One and half kilograms of chicken pieces
500g of ground walnuts
3 onions chopped
2 teaspoons of turmeric
Three to four glasses of fresh pomegranate juice
Two to three teaspoons of sugar
120 ml of cooking or olive oil
A pinch of salt
- Chop the onions and add to a medium-heated pan with the oil. Cook the onions until they’re lightly golden and soft.
- Add the walnuts to the onions, and keep stirring for two minutes, then add the turmeric.
- Stir the mixture and add 400ml of water.
- Wash the chicken pieces, and add to the pan.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, and let simmer for half an hour.
- Then add the pomegranate juice and salt, and also the sugar to reduce the sour taste of the juice.
- Cover the stew, and leave to gently simmer on a low to medium temperature for an hour, stirring occasionally, and wait for the oils in the walnuts to be released. The mixture needs to thicken, and darken to resemble a rich fruity sauce
- Serve the stew with long-grain or basmati rice.
Pomegranate Salad with Spinach, Avocado and Goat’s Cheese (serves 2)
A light and fresh salad with the added zing of fresh pomegranate seeds.
Two handfuls of fresh baby spinach
Seeds from half a pomegranate
One avocado sliced
Three tablespoons of chopped coriander
50g of crumbly goat’s cheese
Sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
One teaspoon of pomegranate molasses
- Toss the ingredients in a bowl.
- Mix the dressing and drizzle it over the salad.
- Add the salt and pepper if desired.
- Serve with crusty bread.