Displayed in a bowl or nestled into garland on your mantel, pomegranates are perfect holiday decorations. They’re also a festive addition to many dishes, but first, you have to get at their seeds; as attractive as they are, pomegranates have a reputation for being hard to peel. Don’t worry: there’s a hack for that! Cut the pomegranate in half. Fill a large bowl with water and, while holding the fruit under the water, loosen the seeds from each section. The seeds will sink, the pulp will float, and you won’t get pomegranate juice all over your counter, walls, and hands.
Now that you’ve freed the seeds, it’s time to put them to work on your holiday table.
Freeze pomegranate seeds on a baking sheet and add them to cocktails like cosmopolitans and cranberry spritzers. Float them in champagne cocktails to showcase their jewel-like colors. Use them in drinks like pomegranate martinis, pomegranate fizzes, or juleps made with pomegranate juice. And kids (or adults who don’t drink) will love them in ginger ale or sparkling cider.
Red and green equals Christmas, so make your salad gorgeous by scattering some pomegranate seeds on top of a bed of greens, sliced pears, and bleu cheese. You can make another pretty plate by placing shredded endive and shallots on top of watercress and topping with orange slices and pomegranate seeds. A warm salad of arugula and endive, thinly sliced apple, and roasted chestnuts is perfectly topped with pomegranate seeds as well.
Make your own cranberry sauce (one cup water, half a cup sugar, and half a cup pomegranate molasses with four cups of cranberries, simmered with spices until the berries burst) and stir in a cup of pomegranate seeds as soon as you take it off the stove. The seeds add some extra texture and a fresh bite of flavor to your sauce.
In addition to sour cream and applesauce, serve your latkes with a pomegranate syrup (boil two cups pomegranate juice with one cup sugar until syrupy, then stir in half a cup of seeds) and the Festival of Lights will be brighter than ever before.
Fruit salad is always a lovely addition to a holiday brunch whether you do a mixed-up salad or a plate of carefully arranged fruit. Make your fruit salad and add in a cup of pomegranate seeds, then stir in or drizzle on pomegranate syrup (see above).
Beautiful little pomegranate seeds add color and a tart sweetness to your stuffing. Add the seeds from two pomegranates to your stuffing mix and cook it as you normally would. When you serve your turkey, scatter some seeds around the platter for some color as well.
Pomegranate can also enliven the flavor of your favorite Thanksgiving sweet potato dish. Prepare your sweet potatoes as you normally would (whether you boil first or just bake). Drizzle with pomegranate molasses before the final browning occurs and then dot the dish with pomegranate seeds before serving.
Since pomegranate seeds are the perfect color for the holidays, mix them into your olive oil cake, Italian cream cake, cheesecake, or trifle. If you’re feeling ambitious, pomegranate seeds will shine like tiny ornaments on a tall tree-like croquembouche.
Brette Sember is the author of Cookie: A Love Story: Fun Facts, Delicious Stories, Fascinating History, Tasty Recipes, and More About Our Most Beloved Treat. Her website is www.BretteSember.com.
Photo by Darla Hueske CC BY-ND