Pom Pom

The pomegranate, originally cultivated in the Middle East, is now widely grown in many tropical climates around the world. With the discovery of its extreme health benefits, pomegranate consumption has increased tenfold in all cuisines and cultures.

The name “pomegranate” derives from Latin words for “seeded apple.” This has influenced the common name for pomegranate in many languages such as granatapfel in German. In Italian its name, melagrana brings to mind the Yiddish milgrom. And, even though this fruit does not originate from China, the most common nickname is “Chinese apple.”

Of all traditional foods eaten on Rosh Hashanah, the pomegranate is the most unusual in the fact that one eats the seeds and discards the rest.

Pomegranates are now grown in warm sunny regions of California and Arizona and are available from September to January. When purchasing a pomegranate, look at the skin. It should be thin, firm and dark red, but not wrinkled.

Most people eat the seeds entirely, however, some will chew them to release the juice then spit out the seeds. But keep in mind that the seeds provide a generous amount of beneficial fiber and offer many health benefits. Pomegranates are extremely high in vitamin C and potassium. They are also a potent antioxidant, so enjoy them often.

Pomegranate, Mandarin and Kiwi Salad

  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 18-20 ounces mixed baby greens, washed and checked
  • 1 small can mandarins, drained
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
  • ¾ cup pomegranate seeds

Stir together pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk in olive oil.

Toss greens and mandarins with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Arrange on a platter. Lay out kiwi slices attractively over greens. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

Pomegranate Roasted Chicken Steaks

Pomegranate syrup and seeds make this dish perfect for Rosh Hashanah, or anytime you want to dress up chicken.

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate syrup or molasses
  • 3/4 cup honey plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 6 chicken steaks,
  • salt and pepper
  • pomegranate seeds for garnish

Place chicken steaks in a glass dish or Ziploc bag.

Mix pomegranate syrup, 3/4 cup honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, cayenne and garlic. Add pomegranate mixture to chicken and marinate 2-3 hours, turning once or twice.

Remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade.

Place marinade in a small saucepan and cook for 10 minutes to thicken; set aside.

Place chicken, skin-side up, in a roasting pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, basting occasionally with cooked marinade, 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven.

Brush chicken with remaining honey. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve.

This dish can be prepared in advance. Bake just 45 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Before serving, allow chicken to come to room temperature and brush once again with reserved marinade. Bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven before serving.

Prep time: 1 hour plus marinating time

Serves 6

Pomegranate Raspberry Pops

Freeze this refreshing dessert in pops or any silicone mold

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 raspberry tea bags
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate juice

Bring the water to a boil. Add the tea bags and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and discard. Whisk in sugar. Let cool completely. Stir in the pomegranate juice.

Pour mixture into ice pop molds and insert sticks. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.

To unmold, run hot water over the outsides of the molds for a few seconds, then gently pull the sticks.

Yield 6 pops

Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a local Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to peppermill@hamodia.com. This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.