My favorite Thanksgiving salad is a recipe in Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook—arugula, persimmon, pomegranate seeds, toasted hazelnuts and shallot, all with a freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice vinaigrette. The dressing also contains shallot and hazelnut oil, reinforcing all of the beautiful flavors. Plus, it's gorgeous to look at, and really feels like fall. It's one of my favorite salads of all time, but there's a catch—it can be REALLY messy to make. Let's just say that one year I decorated my beautiful white kitchen ceiling with little purple pomegranate juice dots in the process. The dots are still there. Pomegranate juice stains. (Consider yourself warned.)
Salad or not, many folks find themselves faced with the daunting task of freeing those pesky seeds (aka arils) from their tough exterior and clingy pith. Pomegranates are super festive, look gorgeous, and taste delicious—they're great on top of Anne 'Nog, in sparkling water, or even in a glass of champagne. Many people suggest picking out the seeds in a bowl of water, but you always end up with a ton of pith left behind, plus it's a waste of water (let's face it, we're in a drought) and quite frankly it's annoying. Others suggest slicing out the sections. Still too time consuming—seriously, don't you have a turkey to cook?
So here it is, the better way to seed a pomegranate.
- Don't wear a white shirt. I know I said this is easy and mess-free, but just in case...
- Roll your pomegranate around on the counter to loosen up the good stuff inside, just like you would a lemon before juicing. Then slice it crosswise, so that the two knobby ends stay intact. (This second part will release a slight bit of juice, so choose an appropriate cutting board.)
- Take one of the halves and hold it cutside-down in a large mixing bowl. Push your thumbs on the knobby end and use your fingers to pull the edges of the pomegranate away from the center, loosening up the seeds a bit.
- Now comes the fun part. Hold the pomegranate cutside-down in your palm, whack the skin with a large wooden spoon, and watch with delight as the pomegranate seeds magically fall away from the pith and into the bowl. Rotate the pomegranate in your hand, making sure to whack all over the skin and release every last seed.
- Pick out the 2 or 3 bits of pith that fell into your bowl, and repeat with the other half.
That was fun right? Plus you got to release all of your holiday stress on a piece of fruit instead of on your family. (You can thank me later.) If you're worried about juice sprays you can certainly put on your jacket and step outside before whacking away, but last night I successfully seeded my pomegranates without a single drop of juice escaping from my mixing bowl.
Ready for the juice? If you've never had freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice, you have to try this. No, it does not taste like the pre-bottled kind you buy at the store. Do yourself a favor—it's delicious.
- Pour your freshly harvested pomegranate seeds into your blender, put on the lid (key step) and turn it on. Let it run for 20 seconds or so.
- Place a sieve on top of a liquid measuring cup (I use a two cup Pyrex), and pour some of the mixture through the sieve. Use the back of a dinner spoon to help push it through. Scoop the pulp out of the sieve and discard. Repeat until you've strained all of the juice—it only takes a minute or so.
Mess-free, in barely any time at all. Let me know how it goes, enjoy your new party trick, and Happy Thanksgiving! I had more juice than I needed, so I made myself a Pomegranate Spritzer to celebrate. Here's the recipe. Oh, before I forget—to clean your blender, simply fill it halfway with water and add a couple drops of dish soap. Put on the lid and turn it on. Yes, your blender cleans itself. Now you have even more reason to celebrate!
Combine one part freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and three parts sparkling water. Drink, and enjoy.