Introduce a new player to the table: Pomegranate

Chicago TribuneNovember 13, 2013 

Of all the holidays in this country, none may be as rich with tradition as Thanksgiving.

The turkey stars. Bit players include stuffing, potatoes and buckets of gravy. Everything is seasoned to taste, influenced by the flavorings and stuffings and side dishes served by your parents, their parents and your great-grandparents.

Yet there comes a time when even the most resilient traditions deserve a second look.

Perhaps this year you invite someone to share your family’s Thanksgiving meal, a young couple overwhelmed by a new baby, a member of the armed services from a nearby base, an elderly neighbor.

Perhaps you take a second look at your menu. We’re not suggesting the turkey step aside. We’re only saying it may be time to consider adding another player to your meal’s ingredient mix: pomegranates.

They’re in season now through January, impart bright flavor wherever they appear and are lovely to look at. We also seem to have a growing appetite for them, eating the seeds (arils) in salads and side dishes as well as sipping the juice and flavoring many edibles, including ice cream and gum. Total U.S. acreage grew from 4,737 acres in 1997 to 24,517 in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cookbook author and TV celeb Alton Brown so enjoys them, they were the focus of a TV episode and are in his book, “Good Eats: The Later Years.” Among the recipes: a tequila sunrise (with pomegranate syrup) and a Pomegranate Jell-o (unflavored gelatin, fresh juice and crunchy arils).

Not ready for Jell-o? Try welcoming pomegranates to your table with a glaze for the turkey or as the tart note in a wild rice side dish.

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