What’s Cooking: Dishes get pop from pomegranates

Video: How to peel a pomegranate

Chef Brigitte Theriault offers a few simple steps on how to open a pomegranate, which are in season.
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Chef Brigitte Theriault offers a few simple steps on how to open a pomegranate, which are in season.

If you are curious about what to do with a pomegranate, just ask POM Wonderful.

As the nation’s largest grower of pomegranates, the farming company has worked to elevate the pomegranate from a table decoration to an ingredient worthy of gourmet cuisine. Its website and Tumblr are chock full of recipes for the experienced cook to the novice.

And with fall quickly approaching, pomegranate season is slowly getting underway. A bulk of the harvest occurs in October with fruit available into January.

Recently, POM Wonderful partnered with some of the nation’s top chefs to create dishes using fresh pomegranates. Among them is Luke Reyes, chef at Butchers & Barbers restaurant in Los Angeles.

Reyes understands the complexity of flavors that pomegranates can add to a dish and the splash of color they provide. The color of the juice-filled arils can vary from pinkish to a ruby red.

“It can make a dish pop with color,” Reyes said. “And people get excited about food when it is visually interesting.”

Reyes contributed a roasted chicken dish to POM Wonderful’s online rolodex of recipes.

Roasted chicken with pomegranate vinaigrette

Recipe by Luke Reyes, Butchers & Barbers.

1 whole chicken

1 bunch thyme

1 bunch rosemary

Pomegranate vinaigrette:

2 cups 100 percent pomegranate juice

4 whole shallots, peeled and julienned

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt, to taste


3 whole avocados

1 quart arugula, rough chopped

1 small bag mixed lettuces


1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Zest from 2 lemons

Dry the chicken (should be done at least the night before): Rub or pat salt onto breasts, legs and thighs of chicken. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Set open bag in a large bowl, keeping chicken breast side up. Chill for up to 2 days, but at least 8 hours.

Roast the chicken: Arrange a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 500 degrees. Set a wire rack in a large heavy roasting pan. Remove chicken from bag. Pat dry with paper towels (do not rinse). Place chicken on prepared rack, breast side up. Use half the thyme and rosemary bunches to stuff in the cavity and the other half to season the outside of the bird before roasting. Loosely tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under. Brush chicken all over with some olive oil. Roast chicken, brushing with oil after 15 minutes, until skin is light golden brown and taut, about 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Remove chicken from oven and brush with more oil. Let rest for 15-20 minutes.

Make pomegranate vinaigrette: While chicken is resting, pour 2 cups of pomegranate juice into a non-reactive pan and reduce by half. Pour reduced pomegranate juice into a chilled bowl, along with julienned shallots, whisking in 2 tablespoons chili flakes, 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt to taste.

Make the salad: Cut avocados in half, discard the pit, and scoop the flesh out. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes and place in bowl with vinaigrette. Add the arugula and lettuces; lightly mix.

To finish: Return the chicken to the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. Let rest for 20 minutes, then carve.

Place dressed avocado and greens onto a plate and put carved chicken on top. Add lemon zest and sprinkle the feta onto chicken and salad, and lightly spoon any leftover dressing onto chicken.

Serves 4

Pomegranate olive oil cake

Recipe by Matthew Petersen, Newport Restaurant Group.

3/4 cup pomegranate arils (fresh or packaged), plus more for garnish

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted

4 whole eggs, room temperature

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 lemon, zested and juice strained

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

1 to 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Vanilla crème anglaise:

15 egg yolks

1 quart whole milk

1 quart heavy cream

3 vanilla pods, scraped

1½ cups sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare fresh pomegranate arils. Butter and flour the bottom and inside of a 9-inch cake pan; do not use pan spray. (The butter and flour provide a “ladder” for the cake to climb, giving it the final height that is needed.) Sift together flour and baking powder.

Using the whip attachment on your stand mixer, begin to whip the eggs at high speed until about tripled in volume. Add the granulated sugar and continue to whip on high speed. Whip the eggs and sugar until they are pale and stiff – generally about 3 to 5 minutes of high-speed whipping time is necessary. Incorporate the lemon zest, salt and strained lemon juice. Incorporate the melted butter while slowly mixing to avoid splashing. Scrape down the bowl.

Add 1 cup of the flour; mix until incorporated. On medium speed, add 1/2 cup of olive oil; scrape the bowl again. Add the remaining dry ingredients just until incorporated; scrape if necessary.

While mixing, add the last of the olive oil in a steady stream; scrape the bowl. Mix again on high speed for about 30 seconds to ensure a thorough and even mixture.

In a separate bowl, add 3/4 cup of arils and 1 teaspoon of flour to lightly coat them; add another teaspoon if you think it is necessary.

Gently fold the coated arils into the prepared cake batter – four or five turns should do it.

Scrape the batter into your prepared cake pan. Generously sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top of the cake and place the cake into the oven. After about 15 minutes, rotate the cake 180 degrees and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes.

The cake should be golden brown on top and the center should spring back when pressed lightly; use a cake tester, if you wish. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the pan. Add 1/4 cup arils as garnish.

Serve with vanilla crème anglaise (below), more arils and a drizzle of fine olive oil.

Vanilla crème anglaise: Separate 15 egg yolks from the whites. Reserve whites for another use. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Combine milk, cream, scraped vanilla pods and 3/4 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil. Be careful not to burn the sugar while heating, but make sure that the milk and cream scald.

Immediately temper the egg yolks with some of the cream when it scalds. Once tempered, combine everything back in the saucepan and return to the stove. Cook until properly thickened, about one minute.

Strain immediately through a fine strainer into a double boiler or water bath. Blend with a hand blender until very smooth. Cool on an ice bath, with plastic wrap touching the custard to prevent a skin developing.

When made properly, the sauce should be nice and thick, and all of the vanilla beans should be suspended in the custard, not gathered at the bottom.

Chef Brigitte Theriault offers a few simple steps on how to open a pomegranate, which are in season.


Serves 6 to 8

Pomegranate couscous salad

Recipe by Sammy Marshi, Carmel Restaurant and Lounge.

2 cups fresh pomegranate arils (or 2 cups packaged arils)

1½ cups Israeli couscous

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup red pepper, diced

½ cup yellow pepper, diced

¼ cup red onion, diced

1 cup cilantro, rough chopped

¾ cup dried cranberries

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste


1 cup feta cheese

½ cup sunflower seeds

Prepare fresh pomegranate arils from whole pomegranates, if necessary. Place couscous in a bowl with 1½ cups of hot water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let set for 10 minutes. Strain excess water from couscous, if necessary.

Add the olive oil and toss gently. Add vegetables and cilantro; mix to combine. Add cranberries, arils and lemon juice; salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss and garnish with crumbled feta and sunflower seeds.

Serves 4