Pomegranates

The pomegranate has been cultivated for thousands of years for its culinary uses. This short deciduous shrub is native to the middle east, specifically Iran through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thusly, pomegranates are found often in middle eastern cuisine.

Just like the artichoke is a pest to prep in the vegetable world, pomegranates can be pesky to prepare for use. Don't let this keep you from taking advantage of using this fruit while it is in season in your own dishes. The sweet, tart, tangy arils (the seeds within) are great used as garnishes for salads, rice dishes or in a cocktail. The juice makes an excellent marinade for gamey meats such as lamb or, if its your thing...goat.

Before you Begin

Pomegranate juice will stain your fingers or anything else the juice touches. You may want to wear gloves and prepare your work surface with a towel to catch any spray. Some people have done this process in a large bowl while submerged in water, which I have tried. It works pretty well - and it helps remove the bitter white rind from the seeds nicely.

How to Prepare a Pomegranate

1. Using a sharp paring knife cut off the top of the fruit about a half inch or down.

2. Remove the top to expose the arils. You will see upon cutting off the top four to five segments which contain seeds. Carefull cut and release each segment.

3. Take the pomegranate over a large bowl and depending on ripeness you can use your fingers to gently coax the seeds from the rind, or, you can tap the fruit with a wooden spoon to knock out the arils.

Image Credit: bbcgoodfood.com

Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Relish

Ingredients

1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tsp fresh Mint, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
8 lamb chops, ribs work best

Instructions

1. Prepare grill or grill pan for medium-high heat. Rub lamb chops with the 2 Tbsp of olive oil and crushed garlic. season to taste with salt and pepper. Season

2. Once pan is hot add lamb chops and cook on each side about 5-6 minutes, or until you have reached desired doneness.

3. While lamb cooks, in a large bowl mix together pomegranate arils, olives, feta, parsley and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Serve chops on a platter topped with relish.

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