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Seasonal Eats: Precious Pomegranates

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Pomegranate is a fruit rich in history, having ancient origins in modern day Iran and the Caucasus. It is cultivated all over north Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia. In many cultures, the juice of the individual arils is separated from the seeds and processed into grenadine and pomegranate molasses as intense flavoring agents. The fresh arils are also often sprinkled into salads or over desserts for a delightful pop of juice.

Pomegranate juice contains several types antioxidants, flavinoids and tannins, which is where the lore of its elixir-like properties is drawn. Couple that with other vitamins and nutrients found within, and you can see why they have been historically important as a medicinal food. Pomegranates have a glycemic load of 18, are a good source of dietary fiber (if you're eating the seeds) and Folate and are a very good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K.

A simple way to make your own fresh pomegranate juice involves whirling the seeds in the blender and then straining out the juice. You can also create a nice syrup by slowly cooking the juice down with sugar or honey. Learn to cut them open without breaking the seeds and then see saveur's gallery of exotic pomegranate recipes for how to use them.

5 Ways To Enjoy Pomegranates:

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Farro Pomegranate Salad — Combine a bouquet of fall flavors in greens, fruits and nuts over hearty cooked farro for a great side dish or lunch entrée.

Dandelion Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Pine Nuts and Roasted Delicata Squash — Combine hearty seasonal flavors in this tangy-sweet salad.

Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Salted Yogurt, Mint, and Pomegranate Seeds — Mix up pungent herbs and spices over yogurt with a pomegranate pop!

Pomegranate Lentil Soup — Who says salads and raw fare should have all the fun with pomegranate seeds? Use the concentrated syrup in the soup, and then dress the top with fresh fruit!

Pomegranate with Nuts and Orange Flower Syrup (Khosaf al-Rumman) — Set aside the cakes and sorbets for the moment and consider a dessert of softened nuts, pomegranate arils and a fragrant orange flower dressing. Heavenly!