Featured Ingredient: Pomegranate
In ancient cultures, pomegranates were symbols of love and vitality. And what’s not to love about this tempting jewel of the winter fruit stand. (Well, maybe the risk of red splatter but more on that later). The pomegranate, which grows on shrubby trees native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, is increasingly being studied for its age-avenging compounds that are present in the sweet-tart arils (seeds) and surrounding juices.
The crunchy arils are jam-packed with fiber, bone-building vitamin K and a host of free-radical destroying phytochemicals that have been purported to help fend off a number of cancers. Plus, they lend a burst of flavor to yogurt, salads, ice-cream and cottage cheese.
Perhaps the cleanest way to access the arils that won’t leave your kitchen looking like it was part of the set for Saw is to cut off the crown, score the rind into quarters and submerge it in water. Break open the sections of the fruit under water and roll out the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the inedible membrane will float to the top.
After you have your nutrient packed arils separated why not try them in this seemingly fanciful but not really recipe. These olive oil cakes are delicate so I would really recommend using paper liners or silicon cups for this one. You can grind up the almonds in a coffee grinder, food processor or a Vita-mix. It would probably also work just to chop them really fine with a chef’s knife. I was hoping the lemon flavor would come through some more but sadly it did not. Maybe more zest next time?
The Martha Stewart recipe I adapted this from used red grapes. So who says red grapes and who says pomegranate seeds?
If you like these, perhaps you should try these Olive Oil Rosemary Breads
Pomegranate Olive Oil Cakes
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup finely ground almonds
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1 cup pomegranate seeds/arils
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, mix together flour, ground almonds, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Beat eggs, sugar, and zest with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in olive oil. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in ¾ cup of the pomegranate seeds. Divide mixture among 12 muffin cups and top with remaining pomegranate seeds. Bake for 28 minutes, or until slightly brown on top and a tester comes out clean. Let cool before unmolding.