Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds

A friend of mine recently bemoaned her crowded fridge—lined with beautiful, if overly abundant pomegranates, twelve in all, accumulated over weeks of deliveries.  She wondered what could be done with so much fruit.  I described our battle plan.  We’d been dumping the perky seeds into all manner of salads, slowly and steady.  It had become a nearly nightly ritual.  A tasty one.

Recently I’ve branched out beyond the salad bowl though.  Turns out pomegranate seeds are one of those secret, unexpected culinary weapons with their hint of sweet-tart flavor and tiny, juice-splattering crunch.  They shake our taste buds up a bit, in a new and different way (though admittedly in many cultures they are nothing new at all).  We sprinkle them over a rice pilaf or stir with earthy whole-grain farro and roasted sweet potatoes.  Or skip the grains entirely and simply top the roasted veggies on their own—the spiced sweet potatoes and kale, or alternatively roasted seasonal faves like cauliflower, beets, broccoli or carrots.  Sometimes we add toasted nuts and a handful of chopped herbs if we feel inclined.  A squeeze of lemon.

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Kale Salad with Carrot, Orange, Pomegranate and Citrus-Tahini Dressing

Kale salads are all the rage these days—packed with uber-healthy, raw nutrients.  Still, some diners remain on the fence, given the leaf’s chewy texture.  Kale lovers know a few tricks to soften things up and win the skeptics over.  A few fruity additions are sure to help.

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Escarole Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Pomegranate Seeds and Avocado

Escarole is a slightly bitter winter lettuce that partners well with other strong flavors—roasted broccoli, tangy pomegranate seeds and a mustardy vinaigrette, for starters.  We’ve added lots of pistachio nuts for crunch and a touch of aged Parmesan for flourish.  If you can’t find escarole substitute one of its cousins such as frisée or endive.  Peppery arugula would be lovely as well.  Cauliflower or Romanesco would be a nice addition if you don’t have broccoli on hand.

The colors make this dish a natural choice for a winter holiday table.

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Fall Green Salad with Roasted Pumpkin, Walnuts and Pomegranate Seeds

This salad is simple, yet the flavors go far beyond ordinary, everyday tossed greens. Substitute any type of winter squash (some will need peeling, depending on the thickness of the skin). We love arugula in this salad but choose your favorite assertive greens:  escarole, endive or Japanese mizuna.

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Winter Panzanella with Beets, Orange and Fresh Herbs

In summer months one of our favorite salads is an Italian bread cube and tomato-studded masterpiece, called Panzanella.  It’s made with day-old bread that’s firm and crisp, and soaks up the juicy tomato goodness creating a sweet and crunchy-soft bite.  In this winter version, orange takes the place of the tomato, creating a different sort of sweet that’s every bit as good, if not traditional.  We toss in some of the season’s favorite partners as well — roasted beets, crisp romaine lettuce and fresh herbs like parsley, arugula and cilantro. Continue reading