Any way you enjoy them, pomegranates are autumns delight

I stir them into my cereal, add them to cottage cheese and yogurt and sprinkle them into a fresh green salad. Sometimes I just toss a handful in my mouth. Jewel-like pomegranate seeds, with their burst of sweet-tart flavor and crunchy texture, pleasantly surprise the palate and inspire the cook with creative ways to use them.

At one time pomegranates made a brief autumn appearance in the market, and most people considered it a very exotic fruit that made a lovely centerpiece for the dining room table. On the East Coast they were known as Chinese Apples. Today they have become a “darling” ingredient for many chefs and touted with wonderful health benefits as well.

This bright red fruit has been cultivated in the Mediterranean region since ancient times and makes several appearances in the Bible. It is believed that one fruit contains 613 seeds, one for every mitzvah in the Torah, and eating this fruit on Rosh Hashanah is symbolic of the wishes that our good deeds in the ensuing year

will be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate.

Today, byproducts of this delightful fruit include pomegranate juice, molasses, wine and vinegar, which can be added to any dish for a wonderful flavor.

Watercress, Pear and Pomegranate Salad

Serves 6

3 Tbs. pomegranate juice

3 Tbs. white wine vinegar

1⁄2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. walnut oil

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 bunches watercress, trimmed

1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

2 ripe but firm pears, cored and cut into 8 wedges

1⁄2 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese or mild goat cheese

1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds

In small bowl whisk together pomegranate juice, vinegar, mustard, oils, salt and pepper until well blended.

In large shallow bowl toss watercress and lettuce with all but 2 Tbs. dressing. Divide greens among 6 plates. Arrange pear wedges in spoke pattern on greens and drizzle pears with remaining dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and pomegranate seeds.


Walnut Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce

Serves 4

1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts

1⁄4 cup all purpose flour

4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1⁄4 inch thickness

salt and pepper

2 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 Tbs. chopped shallots

1⁄4 cup dry white wine

1⁄2 cup chicken stock or canned low sodium chicken broth

1⁄2 cup pomegranate juice

2 Tbs. pomegranate molasses

1 tsp. honey

8 chives

Combine walnuts and flour on flat plate. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and coat with walnut mixture. Heat 1 Tbs. butter and 1 Tbs. oil in large skillet over high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate.

Add shallots and wine to skillet and boil until wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add stock, pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses and honey. Boil mixture until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in remaining butter, taste for salt and pepper and return chicken to skillet. Simmer until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plates. Spoon sauce over chicken and cross 2 chives over each serving.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].