Two of my favorite foods are often considered very hard to prepare and eat in their natural form. Pomegranates and artichokes are both delicious and not nearly as complex as they seem at first glance.
These treats are the bane of many, with the little tiny seeds seemingly wedged inside a pithy mess of a shell. The juice stains, and getting the seeds out is far too frustrating to be worth the effort. Might as well just buy the seeds for a huge markup, right?
There are two very easy tricks, depending on how you want to use the seeds. For use in dishes, like salads or on top of desserts, the first trick is fastest but also results in more broken seeds. For slightly more patience, the second technique is excellent to get the most seeds out of the pomegranate in the best shape, for eating, snacking and storing.
I linked to a video of each, along with my specific tips to make these work best. Both are ways to cleanly and easily get the seeds.
Use a knife to score just through the skin of the pomegranate about an inch below the stem. Pull the top off (this will take some effort, but trust me you definitely can). Score the pomegranate along the membranes (be careful not to cut deeply, just through the skin).
Hold over a bowl and pull apart gently and repeatedly until it looks like a flower. Discard the membranes that are obvious.
Now is a really good chance to get out your aggression. Hit the skin side of the pomegranate with a big spoon, holding the seeds over the bowl, and watch the seeds fall out! Pull the remaining membranes out. Delicious!
This is actually my preferred method because it gets the seeds cleaner, even though it takes longer. For me, the seeds stay more intact, and end up cleaner without little bits still clinging to them. It also eliminates the concern for staining-mess, making it an excellent option for kids (although there is the possibility of spilled water, which only ups the ‘fun’ factor.)
Open the pomegranate in the same way as above (cutting off top, score into sections). Instead of hitting it with the spoon, put it into a big bowl of water. Gently thumb the seeds off the rind and pith. The white parts will all rise to the top of the water, leaving the seeds clean and intact below. Pour off the water and the seeds are left. Delicious!
These prickly and delicious flowers are often eaten in the form of pickled artichoke hearts; however, the fresh winter vegetable is splendid steamed or grilled, and is so simple.
Steamed: Simply trim the stem and clip the top of the leaves (they can be sharp). Put water under the steamer in your pot. Flavor the water with your favorite spices. I like bay leaves, onion, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and a dash of cloves. It will make your house smell delicious! Steam for about an hour (depending on size and freshness of the artichokes) until you can easily pull a leaf from the artichoke.
Grilled: These grill much faster than steaming. Cut the artichoke in half and pull the smallest leaves out. Brush with oil. Place on a hot grill, cut side down, and close the grill. Grill for 10-15 minutes until the leaves pull out from the plant.
Both the bottoms of the leaves and the heart itself are edible. Pull the leaves from the plant and scrape the meaty part (the bottom of the leaf) between your teeth. Once the only leaves left are thin with very little meat, grasp the leaves in one hand and the stem in another, twisting the leaves away from the base. You can eat the meat remaining on the leaves. Clean the heart with a small spoon, removing the ‘hairs’.
You can eat the entire ‘bowl’ of artichoke meat, right down to the stem. Enjoy!
Many enjoy these dipped in their favorite aioli, melted butter or mayonnaise. Experiment with your preferred flavors.