I’m standing in the produce section of the grocer, deep in thought contemplating what I’m whipping up for dinner when all of a sudden I catch something in the corner of my eye… my heart begins to race, my mouth goes dry and I think to myself “It can’t be! I know Spring is traditionally the time for love but, this?!” It’s a load of pomegranates! In SPRING! Now I’m a big proponent of seasonal eating, but if you’re a lover of pomegranates, you’ll understand when I say I HAD to buy one. Yes, I know the food miles from the U.S. are likely to reserve a special place for me in eco-hell, but this brilliant fruit always seduces me with those glistening, bright red jewel-like seeds in season or not. Winter is the actual season for the pomegranate so it was even early for the U.S. season. We don’t usually see the imports in Australia until Christmas, which is why I’ve always referred to them as the Jewels of Christmas.
It’s not just the beauty or the taste of the succulent little arils that I love. I also love the fact that the pomegranate has some pretty amazing health benefits. Ayurvedic Medicine has used the pomegranate as a remedy for anything from diarrhoea to parasitic infections to nose bleeds to eye disease. It’s even said that Ancient Egyptians buried their dead with pomegranates because they believed it offered eternal life. While I’m not sure the scientific world would back any of these claims as effective, the pomegranate’s nutritional value in indisputable: high in fibre, rich in antioxidants, potassium and vitamins C and K. Recent research and clinical trials are promising that pomegranate juice may be effective in reducing heart disease risk, lowering blood pressure and inhibiting viral infections. For such a little seed, that’s pretty big stuff!
The other thing I love about pomegranates is their culinary versatility. Pomegranates are used in cuisines all over the world (Moroccan, Persian, Chinese, Indian) and go well with meat, fish, chicken or vegetarian dishes. I’ve used them in both savoury and sweet dishes with great success. I thought I’d honour the season with this crisp, tangy, crunchy little salsa made with pomegranate, apple, red onion, coriander and lime juice. Great for snacks or as a topping on chicken, pork, fish or lamb fillet (which is what I’m using it for tonight!) or even in wholegrain wraps. And it’s oh so pretty too!