It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.
So far I’ve done:
(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel
(K or L): Kamut Brioche
(M, N, or O). Caramelized Onions
This month we focus on P, Q, or R. My ingredient of choice: Pomegranate
Pomegranate: Super healthy, super annoying to prepare
Pomegranates are native to Persia but now grow in many regions of the Middle East as well as Southeast Asia, Southern Europe, and North Africa. Right now, we’re at the very beginning of pomegranate season, and as the winter approaches you’ll be seeing them more and more in the grocery stores.
Pomegranates are really cool because you actually eat the seeds. They’re called arils and are surrounded by a delicious little bubble of sweet juiciness.
Unfortunately they are kinda a bitch to actually separate from the pomegranate rind. Some people do this in a bowl of water, but I find that a bit messy so usually I cut the pomegranate in half, then score the rind of each half with a knife a few times before holding the pomegranate half over a bowl and whacking the the rind with a back of a spoon until all the seeds come out. I guess this process is kind of messy too.
But once you do get the arils out they’re like pretty little rubies. Delicious little rubies.
I like to eat them with a spoon.
There has been a lot of hype about pomegranate’s ability to reduce heart disease risk factors but the efficacy hasn’t been proven through enough research to really say, one way or another.
But, they’re fruit so of course they’re healthy for you! They are really high in vitamin C and fibre. But only if you eat the whole seed (don’t be thinking you’ll get fibre from certain heavily marketed juices)
And now that I’ve touted the benefits of eating the whole pomegranate aril for optimal healthiness I’m going to fail to take my own advice and offer up a recipe that uses Pomegranate Molasses instead.
Pomegranate Molasses is super concentrated pomegranate juice, boiled down until it makes a thick syrup with the consistency of molasses. It’s actually more tart than it is sweet with a really strong pomegranate flavour. It is used pretty heavily in Middle Eastern cooking (you can find it at your local Lebanese grocer. Probably next to the Date Molasses).
This recipe comes from the cookbook Super Natural Every Day. I bought the book not too long ago and all the recipes that I’ve made from it have been really good so far—simple to put together and very flavourful.
Here I used tofu instead of the tempeh that is called for. The dish works really well because the pomegranate molasses gives it a tart sweetness and the eggplant and sweet potato have a soft but slightly chewy texture and the feta cheese on top really brings the dish together.
Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant
1 tsp sea salt
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 c pomegranate molasses
1/3 c olive oil
1 eggplant, cut into 1” cubes, (8oz)
1 block of firm tofu, drained and cut into 1” cubes
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1” cubes
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c feta cheese, crumbed
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Smash the salt and garlic into a paste with a pestle and mortar or with the side of a knife plate. In a small bowl whisk this garlic paste together with the pepper flakes, pomegranate molasses, and oil.
Stir together the eggplant, tofu, and sweet potato on a baking sheet or in a baking dish large enough to arrange them in a single layer. Zest the lemon over top. Pour 3/4 of the the oil mixture all over the veggies, toss to combine, and spread into a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring halfway through baking, until the sweet potatoes soften.
Serve topped with the cilantro and feta and a drizzle of the remaining pomegranate glaze.
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