For the love of the pomegranate (recipe round-up and tips)

Were it not for the arrival of the vibrant pomegranate in winter, I might never temporarily release my affections for summer berries.

Fortunately, this fruit is bright and juicy, like my long lost raspberries and strawberries, and almost as versatile. It certainly has a spot in my refrigerator drawer and brings a welcome crunch and a pop of color to drab winter foods.

I don’t buy into all the health claims (we know who was behind those studies, don’t we) and I don’t drink POM frequently, due to the high sugar content, but I love, love sprinkling the fruit’s arils (seeds) onto salads and sides.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes featuring pomegranate.

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Apple Pomegranate Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

I‘ve been mourning the lack of produce at the farmers market in the last couple weeks.

It seems as if overnight the overflowing stalls of tomatoes and carrots disappeared, packing up their tables and baskets for the season and leaving a selection of local meat vendors and a few farmers that have access to hoop houses and green houses or specialize in winter squash and root vegetables. Long live the root vegetable.

At home, my garden is in the final days. Just this week we pulled the last bits of ever-hardy kale from the ground, cleaned them, and tucked them into the refrigerator alongside a collection of celeriac, daikon, and turnips. There the pile of evergreen leaves sat on the shelf just above the pomegranates, meeting me multiple times a day under the glaring bare bulb as I pulled breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the depths of the refrigerator.

Finally, after lamenting again over the lack of fresh-from-the-garden lettuces, I spotted the red and green and inspiration hit. It’s time to embrace fully the winter salad season.

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Chocolate Pavlova with Winter Fruits

This airy-fairy chocolate pavlova will woo you with its balance of tart and sweet, creamy and crunchy.

November stormed in with a chip on her shoulder and brought a gale that toppled trees and ripped the roof of a business in the neighborhood.

We watched from the windows as gusts of wind effortlessly whipped neatly raked piles of leaves up in the air and tore branches off the trees in the back yard.

The storm caused power outages over a broad area which left us in the cold for thirty long hours.

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Winter Sangria with citrus & pomegranate

This year we have two parties leading up to New Year’s, then a blissful clear calendar on the 31st. I’m so looking forward to a non-hyped quiet night in, especially after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The visiting -and feasting- has been wonderful, and I’ve been thrilled to host out-of-town family for a week, but Danny and I are very ready to put our feet up and exhale in a quiet house.

Last year we organized to have baby sitter, then bundled up (why is NYE always freezing?) and had a great evening out with friends, but I’m hesitant to leave Clara this year – or maybe I’m just using her as an excuse to stay in! Either way, we’re staying cozy this New Year’s Eve.

Danny’s stashed a bottle of champagne for midnight and I’m planning fondue for two and mini tourtière hand pies. In the meantime, though, we’ll be sipping on a dark and fruity winter sangria and nibbling maple spiced nuts as the hours count down.

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A Christmas salad of winter greens & seasonal fruit

It’s funny how this salad came to be: a rough chop of leftover greens from the crisper drawer and a few odd bits of scrounged fruit. It wasn’t until I had everything assembled on my cutting board that I noticed the unmistakably festive red, white and green colors.

From there it was merely a matter of balancing the flavors – bitter versus sweet – and textures (the kale benefits from a five-minute marinade in the vinaigrette before the salad is tossed) before mounding it next to another holiday staple – tourtière.

One forkful into this plate and I realized it was the perfect match: rich, spiced pork pie with buttery pastry complemented by a slightly bitter, crunchy salad of winter greens.

Not only does this salad boast the colors of Christmas, but it offers a welcome burst of acidity at a time when foods tend to be so rich. I think you’re going to want to stock some kale and pomegranate in the refrigerator this week.

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