Winter foods in cold climates tend to be heavy, and we like them warm, those comfort foods. But in between all of that warming and comforting I need some bursts of color and freshness. Citrus is of course a great winter adder to my food repertoire (here a recent post on that), but my favorite must be pomegranates.
Years ago we visited Morocco in October. Several large pomegranate shrubs, or small trees, grew right outside our ground level hotel room in Zagora on the edge of the desert. We plucked and ate, and plucked and ate with abandon, as we had never experienced so much abundance of such an exotic fruit. Here, pomegranates are a special, if somewhat common, winter treat that pops up around Thanksgiving and is pretty much gone after Christmas.
Their ruby red color is sumptuous, and even just a few of those arils, the fancy names for those juicy seeds, make any dish look festive. On a special occasion I’ll drop a few into a glass of sparkling wine, where they bob up and down like lava lamp blobs. Sprinkled over salad the garnet red seeds look gorgeous in contrast to the greens, and provide a surprising burst of fresh and tart and sweet flavor. For Thanksgiving I made a delicious and beautiful pomegranate and cranberry salsa to contrast with the meat and heavy side dishes.
Pomegranates are part of famed Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi's food heritage and he cooks a lot with them, way beyond my simple uses. Check out some of his recipes. I love expanding my repertoire to keep cooking exciting, mealtime a discovery for those I cook for, and add different nutrients. Pomegranates are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, something we can really use in the wintertime.