It may be the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – but neither our orchard nor our veggie patch reflect that at the moment.
With the exception of a couple of struggling brussel sprout plants and next year’s artichokes, the veg patch is bare. In the orchard, the only fruitfulness you’ll find is a clutch of figs that’ll never ripen before the onset of winter.
All the more reason then to be cheered by the sight of the pomegranate tree outside our front door, festooned like a Christmas tree with tennis-ball-sized fruit of crimson and orange.
If there’s one fruit-tree cert for whatever future hot-weather garden I plant, it’d be a pomegranate. A well-mannered tree that seems to peak at around 5m high; deciduous, with winter revealing a dense pattern of spiny branches and a peeling, flaky bark; drought and disease-proof; big, bright scarlet, trumpet-shaped flowers from spring into mid-summer; and an autumn abundance of those wonderful showy fruit, with their juicy, ruby-red seeds.
There’s just one problem. What do you actually do with all those pomegranates ?
Silver Spoon, the much-loved cookbook which is to Italians what Delia Smith is to the British, contains well-over 2,000 recipes. And of those, precisely three feature pomegranates.
And two of those three use pomegranate seeds almost as an afterthought, just as a last-minute garnish, rather than a key ingredient.
So if the pomegranate has the world’s top chefs stumped for ideas on how to use it, how nice to pass on a recipe that looks stunning; tastes fantastic; and takes quite literally five minutes to prepare.
The idea comes courtesy of our good friend Kate, who should take all the credit when this recipe goes viral.
Here’s what you’ll need to make a side-salad for two people.
– 3 (or maybe 4) pomegranates, depending on size. They’re at their ripest when their skins are just starting to crack
– 150g tin of sweetcorn
– a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar
– a grind or two of black pepper.
Open the tin of corn; empty into a sieve to drain off any liquid; and then put the corn niblets into a bowl.
Extract the pomegranate seeds. Which is easier said than done. Absolutely and definitely DO NOT wear your favourite white silk sweater while you’re doing this.
I read somewhere that the best method is to cut the pomegranate in half; place it cut-side down on a board; and whack it with a wooden spoon. Well…no. Didn’t work.
So cut the fruit into thickish slices and use a tea-spoon handle to winkle-out the seeds into your bowl of corn. Messy. But quick.
You want roughly equal quantities of each.
Drizzle with a little oil; add a drop or two of balsamic; and a grind or two of black pepper; give everything a quick stir – and that’s it.
You now have a visually stunning, startlingly original and extraordinarily delicious salad which goes incredibly well with chargrilled meat – or even just on its own, as a perfect light lunch on a hot day.
I have no idea why two such disparate ingredients should combine so spectacularly well.
But the process is so easy; and the end product so sublime; it’s almost culinary negligence not to give it a try.