Pomegranates are everywhere. Ever since they were crowned the “Superfood of the 21st Century” a few years ago, pomegranates have been spotted in everything from fruit smoothies to Thanksgiving stuffing. I have seen the bright red seeds mixed into gourmet chocolate bars, gelato, salads, and sauces, and pomegranate juice, once carried exclusively by health food stores, can now be purchased at your local 7-11 in various sizes. I would be willing to bet, however, that many people who are stocking up on these pomegranate products by the organic truckload could not even tell you what the health benefits of this ubiquitous fruit are (I couldn’t until I did a little research.)
Research reports that pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and can also help to lower your “bad” cholesterol. In addition, pomegranate juice, like aspirin, can help keep blood platelets from clumping together and forming unwanted clots. These are just a few of the many potential benefits of eating pomegranates.
One of the definite benefits of eating a pomegranate is that they are absolutely delicious. The plump, juicy little seeds are a nice combination of sweet and tart. Up until yesterday, I hadn’t used them at all in my cooking, but let me tell you, after tasting this Pomegranate and Pistachio White andWild Rice Salad, I think that I will be incorporating them often. I am so glad that I made enough for leftovers–it was really wonderful and I can’t wait to have it again. There are so many flavors and textures going on at the same time with the salty, crunchy pistachios, the caramelized red onions, the two kinds of rice, and the juicy seeds. In addition, as you can see from the photo, it’s not bad to look at either! With this recipe, I think that I have found my side dish for the next time I entertain. I might even plan the whole meal around it–it’s that good! Here are some tips for perfect pilaf:
- If you are using whole pomegranates, it is important to note that their juice stains (cutting boards too!), so be sure that you are not wearing your favorite outfit when you cut into them. Work close to a sink or over a large bowl.
- To open and get the seeds out of a pomegranate, make a cut through the top and halfway through the pomegranate with a chef’s knife. Pry open the fruit the rest of the way with your fingers. Make a second cut, again halfway through the fruit, and use your fingers to pry it open, so that you are left with four quarters of the pomegranate. Working over a bowl, use your fingers to scoop out the seeds from the peel and the membrane. Fill the bowl partially with water, and the seeds will sink to the bottom as the membranes float to the top. Once you are done stripping the seeds from the skin, skim the membranes from the top of the water and strain the seeds. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
- To make this recipe faster and easier, you can substitute a white and wild rice mixture for the separate wild and white rices. Cook according to package directions and combine with the remaining ingredients.
Pomegranate and Pistachio Wild Rice Salad
1 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
3/4 cup wild rice
2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock, plus more if needed
1/2 cup long grain white rice
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 scallions, minced
1 cup POM Wonderful pomegranate seeds (about 1 large pomegranate)
2/3 cup roasted shelled pistachios, chopped
3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened and are beginning to caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wild rice to the pot and stir to coat well. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir the rice, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in the white rice, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes, adding more stock if necessary. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Whisk the sesame oil, vinegar, thyme, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the rice mixture, tossing to coat. Add the scallions, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and parsley and stir to mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the salad warm, room temperature, or even cold!