April 30, 2014

Autumn harvest – Pomegranates

My family and I spent the Anzac weekend away at my in-laws home in the Hunter Valley, NSW. My Father-in-law had arranged for us to visit the neighbours’ farms; one growing native finger limes and the other exotic pomegranate trees.

Pomegranate in orchardPom Orchard

It dawned on me that we are extremely fortunate in this country to be surrounded by beautifully grown and diverse produce.

While a typical Sergeant’s rations pack in 1915 World War I were something along the lines of tea and sugar (no milk), six ‘tough’ biscuits to spread a bit of jam on or (Anzac biscuits instead of bread) due to the longer shelf life, a small piece of cheese, one rasher of bacon, and a bully beef stew maybe were a day’s feed.  A diet like that isn’t fun for anyone really is it? So many sacrifices and today, we don’t even really know what that’s like to go without, (unless of course our education on fresh foods deprives us) because everywhere we go there is abundance and variety to enjoy in this lucky country.

Michael and Leila are a gorgeous and welcoming couple who became one of the initial seventeen pomegranate farmers in Australia. They planted approximately 500 trees with a few varieties on their property. Several varieties of pomegranates have names like ‘Wonderful’, ‘Ben Hur’, ‘Azerbaijani’, ‘Elche’ and ‘Rosavaya’ which differ in flavour; sweetness of juice, arils, shape and shelf life.

My almost five-year old was having a jolly time running down the rows, picking and eating the arils from fruit that split whilst still perched on the tree …

Pulling pomegranates off tree

Pomegranates are a most heavenly fruit, antioxidant rich and have been linked to protecting cardiovascular health, perhaps even fighting particular types of cancer (e.g. prostate), anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which are good for digestion and related upsets.

We were generously given a huge pile of pomegranates and some pomegranate juice mixed with white wine that although undrinkable held promise to be transformed into something more delectable.  Needless to say, we headed back to Orange with an amazing load of colours popping out of our boot; pomegranates, finger limes, a final harvest of tomatoes, chillies and more.

Staring at this brilliant red fruit, I drifted into my cloud of inspiration dreaming of what I could turn all these pomegranates into? So many ideas, not enough time! Well that’s not entirely true because I also learnt that they generally can last up to six months, okay phew I can pace myself.

Leila who I hear is an AMAZING cook was happy to give me some ideas too as to what I could make with them including the juice…pomegranate molasses, jelly for cheese boards and more. I also shared a recipe with her which uses both the molasses and arils from award-winning chef and restaurateur, Shane Delia. There is a seriously divine and decadent cake (that I love) – it’s a special occasion indulgence and each time I’ve made it  for dinner party guests many compliments are received when it arrives at the table! See here http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/recipes/recipe-search/chefs-recipes/2010/5/shane-delia-chocolate-mousse-tart-with-pomegranates-and-pine-nuts/

So I’m going to get started and experiment by making pomegranate molasses, which I will use in my Quinoa, kale and pomegranate tabouli recipe following. If you dare to be adventurous, you can juice the arils to make the molasses or you can buy pomegranate molasses from most good grocers and delis.

Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate Molasses

Ingredients:

12 cups pomegranate juice (mine was bitter as it was juice with white pith as well)

2 1/4 cup sugar (I used a combination of brown and white as that’s what I had)

3/4 cup lemon juice

Method:

1. Using an inexpensive and large saucepan, combine ingredients and bring to the boil.

2. Turn down heat to a simmer until it reduces dramatically, starts foaming and then you should have a thick sticky syrup that’s both sweet and tart.

If you would like some more ideas on how to use pomegranate molasses let me inspire you. It’s a perfect glazes for poultry and meats, salad dressings, pizzas and desserts especially creamy chocolate ones!

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I’m also going to share my Quinoa, kale & pomegranate tabouli recipe. This salad has three completely versatile ingredients making it the ultimate go to salad for delicious flavour, health and wellbeing.

Seriously, it is awesome as a stand alone dish however also pairs well with quail or lamb (lean lamb and mint sausages are good too), salmon or if keeping it vegetarian adding cucumber, avocado or creamy labne, quark or goat’s cheese.

Quinoa, kale & pomegranate tabouli

Pomegranate, kale & quinoa tabouli

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 cup finely chopped kale (stems removed, leaves washed thoroughly)

1 cup finely chopped fresh continental parsley (flat leaf)

1 cup pomegranate arils

3/4 cup chopped fresh mint

3 shallots, trimmed, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion finely chopped (optional)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Himalayan pink salt and pepper

Method:

1. Place the quinoa into a saucepan with the water, bring to the boil, stir once and bring down to a simmer with the lid on for approximately 20 minutes or until liquid has just absorbed and set aside.

2. Massage the finely chopped kale with two tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl and add parsley, mint, pomegranate arils (seeds), shallot, onion, remaining oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a bowl stir pomegranate molasses into quinoa and mix all other ingredients together until combined.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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