Juicy, sparkling pomegranate seeds are like little gems in the winter months, adding bright color and flavor to all kinds of dishes. They’re a key ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, adding ruby-red crunch to salads and desserts. Read on for our best tips for working with pomegranates, plus creative ways to use them from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen.
Look for: Look for large, firm, deeply red fruits with a plump shape and smooth peel. Avoid any with dried or browned skin. Fruits that feel heavy for their size will have the most juice in the seeds. Store pomegranates at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, or refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 3 weeks.
Prep tips: Here’s the standard way to seed a pomegranate: cut off the peel near the blossom end and remove it along with the bitter white pith,then score the remaining peel into quarters from end to end. Working over a bowl, carefully break the fruit apart with your hands. Bend the peel inside out, and use your fingertips to lightly brush the seeds from the white, sectional membranes.
Still, our Test Kitchen cooks have a couple of extra tips up their sleeves! Here’s one: cut the pomegranate in half, then peel off the outer skin and let the rest soak in a bowl of water. You can remove the seeds underwater; the white pith will float to the top and make it easy to isolate the seeds. Or, cut the pomegranate in half and use a wooden spoon to tap at the outside until the seeds fall out into a bowl. Works like a charm!
Uses: Pomegranate seeds make a tasty and beautiful garnish over fruit, salads, ice cream, pastries and even roasted meats. Its bright, fruity, sweet-sour juice adds wonderful flavor to marinades, vinaigrettes, sauces glazes and drinks.
Pomegranate Smoothie: In a blender, combine sliced banana with pomegranate juice, honey and plain yogurt; blend until smooth. Pour into a glass; garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Wild Rice and Pomegranate Pilaf: In a large bowl, whisk together equal parts sherry vinegar and olive oil. Add cooled cooked wild rice, chopped parsley, diced celery, orange segments, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts; toss to combine. Season pilaf with salt and pepper; sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
Pomegranate and Goat Cheese Salad: Whisk together red wine vinegar, chopped shallot, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss mesclun with vinaigrette, pomegranate seeds and toasted hazelnuts. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.
Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Sauce: Season boneless duck breasts with salt and pepper. Cook, skin side down, in saute pan until fat is rendered. Place, skin side up, on a rack-lined baking sheet. Roast at 375°F for 5 minutes. Discard all but 1 Tbs. fat in saute pan. Cook minced shallot until tender. Deglaze with pomegranate syrup; add chicken stock. Simmer until thickened. Off heat, stir in butter, chopped chives and pomegranate seeds. Pour over duck.