Pomegranates were present in 1550 B.C. in Egypt and began appearing in Greek mythology about 500 years later. Throughout history, their juice and seeds were used in natural medicines for curing a variety of ailments. Pomegranates made their way to Spain and were introduced to America with Spanish settlers in 1769.
They are now grown in California and Arizona. Modern doctors have been researching the fruit and found that it helps reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer and can lower high blood pressure. It might also inhibit the spread of other cancers.
The citrus in this salad helps to balance a meal full of sugary treats. The tangy yogurt topping provides a bit of color, and the mint adds just the right amount of herbal zest to round out a wide range of flavors. Make sure to use the best oranges you can find. Taste the pomegranate seeds before adding to the yogurt, to make sure they are not bitter.
If making this 1 day ahead, keep the yogurt-pomegranate and citrus mixtures separate; combine just before serving.
- 2 medium pomegranates (about 1 pound total, seeds totaling 3/4 cup; see TIP)
- 1 cup low-fat or whole-milk greek-style yogurt
- 1/2 cup packed, finely chopped mint leaves
- 4 medium oranges, peel and pith discarded, cut into segments (juice reserved)
- 1 medium lemon, peel and pith discarded, cut into quarters (juice reserved)
- 1 tablespoon orange flower water
- Orange blossom honey
Cut the pomegranates in half and scoop out the seeds. Discard the skins and pith.
Combine the pomegranate seeds, yogurt and mint in a medium bowl.
Arrange the orange and lemon segments in an alternating pattern on a serving dish.
Combine the orange and lemon juices in a medium bowl, along with the orange-flower water and just enough honey to form a sweet dressing; taste and adjust the sweetness as needed. Pour the dressing over the fruit, then spoon the pomegranate seed-yogurt mixture over the top, leaving some of the fruit to peek through the bottom. Serve cold or at room temperature.
TIP: Cookbook author Amy Riolo likes to use a grapefruit spoon or melon baller to dislodge the seeds from the pomegranate's firm white membrane.
Cut the fruit in half and gently pull it apart into sections. Peel away the pith; turn the pomegranate halves inside out, and the seeds should pop out.
Submerge the cut pomegranate halves in a large bowl of cool water. Use your fingers to break them apart. The seeds should sink to the bottom and the pith and membrane should float to the top.
Sources: From "Field Guide to Produce" by Aliza Green (Quirk, 2004) and "834 Kitchen Quick Tips" from the editors of Cook's Illustrated (America's Test Kitchen, 2006).
Adapted from the upcoming "Nile Style: Egyptian Cuisine and Culture," by Amy Riolo (Hippocrene, 2009).
Tested by Frances Stead Sellers .
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.