You are probably familiar with the powerful antioxidant punches of the almighty pomegranate. Loaded with phytonutrients, pomegranates lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and increase the speed of heart blockages. They are also packed with fiber, vitamins C and K, and folate.
In the Mediterranean, October is the month of pomegranates. With pomegranates weighing down the thin, sharp tree boughs, their flowery, fragrant scent fills the air. The edible seeds burst to break free from the fruit’s thick skin. If you happen to catch the splitting pomegranates too late, it can cause a real mess under the tree. The sticky, sweet sap stains terraces and wrought iron furniture. But that same sap is straight-out delicious. In the Mediterranean, when bags upon bags of pomegranates are collected from a single tree, we can make our own molasses by slowly cooking the pomegranate seeds down with water and sugar. We use this sap (let’s start calling it molasses or syrup) for centuries year-round. I am excited to now see this tasty condiment lining our grocers’ shelves in increasing frequency.
While pomegranates are the fruit of the Fall, pomegranate molasses really comes into its full use in the Spring.
Pomegranate molasses is the single secret weapon to enrich your favorite salad, vegetable or meat marinade. Slightly tart, slightly sweet, it’s the perfect combination for a tangy twist to your favorite meal (think lamb). The complex flavors of pomegranate molasses have many uses.
Below are some of my favorite uses of pomegranate molasses.
- Homemade salad dressing. The secret to a subtle, sweet, authentic Mediterranean salad dressing is a good-quality extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses
- 1 part extra virgin olive oil (my favorite is Trader Joe’s California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- 1 part balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 part pomegranate molasses
- Juice from a quarter of a lemon
- Salt to taste
Whisk and pour over your favorite greens for a sweet and savory salad dressing. I promise: You will ditch your favorite bottle of Kraft after trying this one.
- Vegetables before grilling. Add a twist of sweet to your favorite veggies without a lot of excess calories. Brush a hint of extra virgin olive oil mixed with a few drops of pomegranate molasses on vegetables before they hit the grill for a burst of flavor. Portobello mushrooms and sliced eggplant, with their earthy notes, are particularly well-suited for a few drops of pomegranate sweetness.
- Meat marinades. For your favorite homemade kebabs, massage yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper and pomegranate molasses into lamb, pork and chicken. Marinade for at least 30 minutes to allow all the yummy sweetness to penetrate before grilling.
- Need a quick, light pick me up? Whisk a spoonful into some iced tea. I love a good spritzer in the hot summer months. For just a little bit of sweet without all the pucker, add a teaspoon (or less!) of pomegranate molasses into a homemade iced tea or some soda water for a light, refreshing taste.
Play with this versatile condiment and add a hint of complex, earthy, sour, sweet tones to your favorite meals, salads and drinks. But take heed: Not all pomegranate molasses is created equally. Some molasses is made with refined sugar to make it unnaturally sweet for the Western palate.
Hint: Look for pomegranate molasses with sugar as no higher than the 3rd ingredient on the list.
First published on C’ville Weekly http://www.c-ville.com/mediterranean-corner-heart-pomegranate-molasses/#.VznbapErLIU