Monday, October 15, 2012

Pomegranates: The Great Stress Reliever

We've all heard that pomegranates are good for you, chock full of antioxidants and other healthy stuff and junk.  But the big question is, "How the [beep] do you get those seeds out?!"

Simple, my friend, you whack 'em out!

Yes, another wonderful benefit of pomegranates is they stand in for all of the frustrating people in your life as you beat the seeds right out of their pretty little hull.  Slice the fruit in half, and, with a wooden spoon, whack the red skin over a bowl.  Not only will you release those delicious seeds from their home, but you will release any tension you may have experienced from Maggie in tech support who, once again, lectured you on proper email etiquette or from that guy on the train with chronic halitosis who simply would not stop talking to you about hot tubs.

So, whack your way to a healthier and stress free new you with a little help from the pomegranate!

Pomegranate Couscous with Grilled Eggplant and Kale

An amazing combination of tart pomegranates, earthy eggplant, and a bright pop of kale.

1 2/3 cup pomegranate juice, divided
2/3 cup water
1 cup whole wheat Israeli couscous
2 cloves garlic, minced
Thyme bundle
1 Bay leaf
1 bunch kale, stemmed and shredded (about 3 cups)
5 baby eggplant
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbl lemon juice
2 Tbl honey
3 Tbl olive oil
1 pomegranate, seeds removed

In a medium sauce pot, bring 1 1/3 cup pomegranate juice, water, garlic, thyme and bay to a rolling boil. Add couscous and stir.  Cover and reduce heat, stirring occasionally until couscous is fully cooked.  Set aside.

Slice baby eggplant into thin disks. Grill eggplant on a lightly oiled grill pan over medium high heat in batches, just until grill marks appear.  Combine salt and cumin.  As you remove them from the grill, lightly sprinkle each side with the salt mixture while eggplant is still warm. (If desired, reserve on eggplant and slice it lengthwise.  Grill and arrange as a garnish on top of the dish).

Remove stems from kale, tear leaves into smaller pieces, and place into a bowl.  Add a splash of pomegranate juice, 1 Tbl lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Using your hands, "massage" the kale to break down the fibers.  Kale will turn a vibrant green and begin to smell like bananas (weird, no?).  In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining pomegranate and lemon juices and honey until combined.  While whisking, slowly drizzle in oil to taste.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add couscous, eggplant, walnuts, parsley, mint, and pomegranate seeds to the kale.  Toss well with the vinaigrette.  Garnish with a few grilled eggplant slices and pomegranate seeds.  Serve at room temperature.

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