By the time I was in the third grade, I had read all of the fiction in my elementary school library. The librarian, eager to support a young nerd's love of reading, recommended me to the nonfiction sections of the library that closest resembled fiction: folklore, history, mythology. Of all the books I read from the school's dusty, not-updated-since-before-I-was-born nonfiction stacks, three have still stuck with me: a biography of Lady Jane Grey, a collection of pre-1900 American ghost stories, and most influential of all, Edith Hamilton's Mythology.
One of my favorite myths in Mythology was that of Persephone. (I assumed it was pronounced "Purse-i-fone," but hey, I was 8.) No matter how many times I read the tale, I still wanted to yell at her when she was about to leave Hades's kingdom: "Persephone, don't eat that pomegranate seed!" Having read the folklore section, I already knoew that you are never supposed to eat food otherwordly entities give you, because then you'll be under their spell. Not to mention the fact that Hades had a whole FEAST in front of her, and when she finally caved and ate something, all she chose was a seed? I found it frustrating. But then, I'd never had a pomegranate. I wouldn't eat my first pomegranate for 12 more years, and when I did, I understood right away why Persephone caved and ate some. They are delicious!
So back in November, when the nice people at POM Wonderful contacted me to ask if I was interested in trying a case of their 100% Pomegranate Juice, of course I said yes. Pomegranate juice gives you all the deliciousness of pomegranates without the work, mess, or chewing. When 8 lovely 8-oz bottles of POM Wonderful's awesome pomegranate juice arrived at my door, I was really excited to try some pomegranate recipes.
But first I had to line them up and photograph them, since I'm weird and obsessive like that.
Bottle 1: I just drank it. I always water down juice (I don't really like sweet drinks), so I ended up mixing the pomegranate juice with seltzer to make a spritzer. It's good stright, though, if you're into juice. If you've never had pomegranate juice or pomegranates, for that matter, imagine a darker, richer-tasting, slightly sweeter version of cranberry juice. Also, if you haven't tried pomegranates or pomegranate juice, seriously, try some.
Bottle 2: Pomegranate Tofu with Walnuts.
this chicken recipe.
First, I dredged chunks of tofu in cornstarch, flour, salt and pepper, then sauteed it in a tiny but of oil until browned.
1 16-oz block tofu
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
1.5 Cups walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh pomegranate juice
2 Cups water
2 tsps lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pepper
optional: 1 tsp cornstarch, stirred into 1-2 Tbsp water
First, press the tofu if you have time, to get out excess moisture. Cut tofu into bite-sized (or larger) chunks. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the tofu, allowing to brown lightly on each side. Meanwhile, chop the onion and the walnuts. Remove the tofu from the pan; add the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil to the pan, then add the onions and walnuts. Cook until the onions are wilting and starting to brown, stirring as often as you need to not to let the walnuts burn (but they should brown, too).
Add the remaining ingredients, and cook until the mixture boils. It will not look very pretty, but that's okay--it is delicious.
If you read my edible gift post, you already know what I did with Bottles 3-6: Homemade Grenadine.
The Cupcake Project, but I deviated a little, so I'll give you my version here.
3 Cups pomegranate juice
1 1/2 Cup sugar
1 more Cup pomegranate juice
Put the first 3 Cups of pomegranate juice in a saucepan over high heat. Bring it to a hearty boil.
Store in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator. It will keep for a long time; at least 4-6 weeks.
Bottle 7: Pomegranate Granita
1 Cup pomegranate juice
1 Cup water
1/2 Cup sugar
Pour the pomegranate juice into a glass baking dish. Set aside.
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and stir them over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, pour into the glass dish. Put the glass dish in the freezer. Every 20-30 minutes, remove from the freezer, use a fork to break up all the ice that forms on the top, sides, and bottom of the dish, stir, return to the freezer. In 2-3 hours, you will have an Italian-ice-like dessert!
This serves 2-3 if you give each person a bowl of it; 4-6 if you have dainty little cups of it to accompany a richer dessert.
Bottle 8: Maple-Pomegranate Sauce.
The boyfriend made this, because he is a champion. He combined equal parts pomegranate juice and maple syrup, the seeds of one pomegranate, and 1-2 Tbsp cornstarch (I wasn't paying attention) to make the most delicious pancake topping I've had in quite a while.
I am a big fan of pomegranates, so I already liked POM Wonderful before they sent me anything, but I am an even bigger fan now that they gave me the opportunity to spread my love of pomegranate to you readers. I've noticed that POM now sells containers of pomegranate arils (the seeds), which saves you the work and mess of having to dig them out of the fruit yourself. So you can feel like Persephone by daintily sampling one seed any time you want!*
*-And then, if you're like me, you can feel like a nerd for remembering and being excited about emulating a Greek myth.