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Pomegranates

Sweet and tangy as they are, pomegranates are undoubtedly the "un-convenience" fruit. Few other foods demand as much of the eater. Not only do you have to break through that tough, leathery outer shell, but then you have to pry apart the pith to get to the delicious, though admittedly seedy, edible parts.

Even after all that, you may well wind up with all of your clothes stained bright red. That's probably why you rarely see anyone walking down the street snacking on a pomegranate. There's an easy way to clean a pomegranate, though. Score the skin in quarters and open it up.

Then put each quarter underwater and use your fingers to ream the seeds from the inside. The pith is light and will float to the top; the heavier seedy fruit will sink. Use them as garnishes for salads and desserts.

How to choose: Select pomegranates that are heavy for their size--they'll be the juiciest. Don't worry too much about the color of the rind: It can vary from completely red to reddish-brown without it affecting the quality. Do look for deep color though.

How to store: Pomegranates should be refrigerated; they'll last at least three to four weeks. Once they've been seeded, the seeds also can be frozen in a tightly sealed bag.

How to prepare: Slice Fuyu persimmons and dress them with a little sugar and a dash of orange liqueur, then scatter pomegranate seeds over the top.

Beet and pomegranate salad

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Note: Adapted from "The Book of New Israeli Food" by Janna Gur. Pomegranate concentrate or molasses is available at select gourmet stores, cooking supply stores and Middle Eastern markets.

Ingredients:
3 to 4 medium beets
2 tablespoons pomegranate concentrate or molasses
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 to 3 small, dried red chile peppers, crushed
Coarse sea salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup lightly flavored olive oil

1. Cook the beets in a covered medium saucepan of boiling water until tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool, peel and cut into very small dice. Place in a medium bowl.

2. Add the pomegranate concentrate, lemon juice, peppers, one-eighth teaspoon sea salt, or to taste, and combine. Set aside for about 15 minutes.

3. Toss the beets with the cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 118 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 24 mg. sodium.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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