November 30, 2008

Kale, cauliflower and pasta with pomegranate

When I was a child, my mother would always buy a few pomegranates when they came into season, even though she couldn't really afford them, and she and I would share the jewel-like fruit. There was only one problem. My mother believed that the seeds, like grape seeds, were inedible, so we would chew the juicy pulp off and spit out the seeds. When I was on my own, I thought wistfully of those pomegranates, but didn't want to deal with the piles of gnawed seeds, so I never bought any. Now I know better. You eat the seeds, of course!
In addition to being delicious, pomegranates and their juice contain very high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, and have been the subject of much research over the past few years.
According to
... Researchers report that [pomegranates] are rich in antioxidants that can keep bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2000). This degradation of LDL seems to be an initial step in the development of atherosclerosis. In addition, pomegranate juice, like aspirin, can help keep blood platelets from clumping together to form unwanted clots."
Does this make any difference clinically? More recent research has found that eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months improved the amount of oxygen getting to the heart muscle of patients with coronary heart disease (American Journal of the College of Cardiology, Sept. 2005). Other researchers report that long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may help combat erectile dysfunction (Journal of Urology, July 2005).
Research has also suggested that pomegranates may have possible health benefits in preventing prostate cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, and helping osteoarthritis sufferers.
Pomegranate juice tastes so good that when I get my hands on a bottle of it, I end up drinking it before I can even contemplate using it in a recipe. The same was true of the whole fruit until I was recently given a large number of pomegranates. Here is what I did with one of them.

Kale, cauliflower, tempeh and pasta with pomegranate
  • one large bunch of kale, washed, thick stems removed, thinly sliced
  • one head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • four ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • seeds and pulp from one pomegranate
  • eight ounces tempeh, cut into one inch by one inch by 1/2 inch pieces
  • eight ounces small pasta (like bowties), cooked according to package directions and tossed with two tablespoons olive oil
  • olive oil
  • sweet mustard sauce (one tablespoon dijon mustard, one tablespoon agavé syrup or maple syrup, one teaspoon tamari or natural soy sauce, one teaspoon balsamic vinegar, three tablespoons water or no-salt vegetable broth)
  1. Make the mustard sauce by mixing the ingredients listed, in a small dish. Set aside.
  2. Toss the cauliflower with a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy ceramic baking dish or cast iron pan. Roast in a 450˚ oven for 20 minutes. Stir and continue roasting until softened and starting to brown around the edges.
  3. Meanwhile, in a wok, stir fry the tempeh in one tablespoon olive oil. As it cooks, sprinkle evenly with one–two teaspoons tamari and turn frequently. (Be careful when adding the tamari. It can splatter.) When the tempeh is starting to brown, add the mushrooms. When the tempeh is browned and the mushrooms are cooked, stir in the raisins and remove to a bowl.
  4. Add the kale to the wok, cover and steam in the water left clinging to the leaves from washing. (If necessary, add one or two tablespoons water to keep from burning.) When the kale is bright green and tender, add the tempeh and two tablwspoons of the mustard sauce.
  5. Toss the cooked pasta with one–two tablespoons olive oil and the remaining mustard sauce. Place the cooked and seasoned pasta on a large, oval serving platter. Mound the kale and tempeh along the center. Surround the kale with the cauliflower. Spread the pomegranate seeds over the top of the kale.
How to get the seeds out

Cut off the flower end. Make five evenly spaced shallow incisions in the skin from the top to the base. In a large bowl of water, break apart the fruit along the incisions. Push out the seeds with your fingers. The seeds will sink and the membranes will float. Remove all the skin and membranes and drain the seeds.


  1. For some strange reason, I was also taught to eat pomegranate that way! If I use the seeds in a dish, I eat them whole, but the old method has stuck for eating the seeds plain. I also love the way it extends the eating time--it can take 20 minutes to polish off a pom that way!

  2. When I encountered pom seeds in a dish, I had to force myself to eat them. It just seemed wrong. But this fall I ate more than one whole pomegranate, seeds and all. It still seemed weird, though. As for how long it took to finish one — at least 20 minutes. You have to chew all those seeds!

  3. I have to chime in too. When I was a kid, my mom cut the pom in half and handed us the half and a toothpick. We got to stab the seeds and eat them and it was the most fun ever!

    Your pasta dish is so beautiful!


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