Round, plump and burnished, with that curious, crown-like calyx on top, pomegranates are voluptuous and regal. Split them open and they reveal glistening, crimson seeds — more jewel-like than any other in the fruit kingdom.
The outer shell is tough and leathery and is not eaten, nor is the bitter white pith beneath the skin; this rosy fruit is all about the seeds. To prepare a pomegranate, roll it on a work surface to loosen the seeds, then cut it in half.
You can then scoop out the seedy pulp with a teaspoon or, much more fun, whack the shell of the fruit with a wooden spoon, showering the seeds onto your chosen dish.
The seeds pop between the teeth with a pleasing, juicy crunch, their flavour sweet-sour, slightly tannic, appley and refreshing. The pomegranate also gives us a fruity, sweet and tangy “molasses” made by cooking down the juice into a thick, dark syrup.
It is certainly not the same thing as grenadine, a syrup used in cocktails, which is usually a conglomeration of sugar, colouring and various fruit-juice concentrates, and rarely includes pomegranate at all.
Halloumi and roasted carrot salad with pomegranate
This makes a fantastic starter and is also great as part of a vegetarian main course.
Serves: 4 people
- 500g carrots, peeled and sliced into batons about 1cm thick and 4cm-5cm long
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 225g halloumi cheese, cut into 5mm-thick slices
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
FOR THE DRESSING
- 1½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1½ tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp clear honey
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
01 Heat the oven to 180C (200C non-fan). Put the carrot batons into a large roasting tin, spoon over the honey and oil, season with salt and pepper and toss together well. Roast for 20 minutes.
02 Add the halloumi and toss with the carrots. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the cheese are looking crisp and golden.
03 Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a bowl, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, vinegar, mustard and honey. Gradually whisk in the oil until well incorporated. Season to taste. Extract the seeds from the pomegranate. Spoon the carrots and halloumi onto a warm platter. Trickle over the dressing and finish with a generous scattering of parsley and pomegranate seeds.
04 Serve warm, just as it comes — or make a more substantial spread of it by serving with a green salad, hummus and some warm flatbreads.