Maybe its their bejewelled nature, or their delicious burst of flavour, but lately I cannot get enough pomegranate in my life.
And it turns out this obsession is shared amongst many in the world and rightly so, as pomegranates are a new super food: They are high in vitamin C and potassium, a great source of fiber, and low in calories. Not only is this fruit delicious, but one of the healthiest foods you can eat
Pomegranate are high in three different types of polyphenols (poluphenol is a potent form of antioxidants). The three types – tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid – are present in many fruits, but fresh pomegranate contains particularly high amounts of all three. The antioxidants are credited with helping in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.
So, whether you snack on fresh pomegranate seeds, or drink the juice, or incorporate into into your diet in another way, feel guilt-free as you enjoy each delicious mouthful because you’re doing your body a favor!
Pomegranates in the Northern Hemisphere are in season from September to February and March to May in the Southern Hemisphere, and can be used in so many different ways- sweet, savoury, to garnish, decorate, stew, freeze, blend.. the possibilites are endless. One way to cook with it, is to turn the juice into pomegranate molasses- a sweet thick syrup like substance that is used in a lot of middle eastern dishes.
8 cups pomegranate juice
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat and cook until the mixture has reduced to 2 cups, (approximately 60 minutes). It should be the consistency of thick syrup (like golden syrup or molasses).
Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering. Pomegranate molasses can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
For the following recipe is a really good winter warmer, or delicious served at room temperature on a hot day. It is also a good meal option for vegetarians if serving a banquet with other meaty dishes, as this is very hearty and soulful and will not leave anyone feeling hungry or unsatisfied. For this recipe, if you are too pushed for time to make your own, store bought pomegranate molasses works just as well.
Pomegranate, Eggplant & Lentil Stew
1 large eggplant
1 cup water
1 cup green lentils
4 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 green chillies, seeded and chopped
¼ cup chopped mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
salt & pepper
Cut the eggplant length ways into 5 slices, then slice each into 3 pieces. Sprinkle generously with salt and leave to sit for one hour.
While the eggplant is resting, in a small saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to and simmer until just tender, (about 15 minutes). Drain any excess liquid.
In a bowl, add onion, garlic, chillies, mint, tomato paste, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly to combine.
Rinse eggplant and pat dry. Coat the base of a small casserole dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread ½ cup of the vegetable mixture in the base of the casserole dish, then top with a layer of eggplant. Cover with ½ cup of the lentils, and repeat this layering process until all portions are used up. Drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil and the pomegranate molasses.
Slowly bring the stew to the boil, then reduce to a very low heat and cook for 1.5 hours or until stew is tender.
Stew can be served, hot, warm or at room temperature.