I thought I’d share a slightly lighter recipe this week in advance of Thanksgiving. Read on for a fast yogurt parfait that would be at home on a holiday breakfast or brunch table, plus a method for how to get the good stuff out of a pomegranate:
The first time I ever heard of a pomegranate was in the seventh grade during English class. We were doing a unit on Greek and Roman mythology, and I remember reading how Hades tricked Persephone into staying in the underworld by getting her to eat the seeds of a pomegranate. Having never seen or eaten a pomegranate, I was puzzled by this plot point. I pictured apple seeds and couldn’t imagine eating them, tricked or not!
Years later, I discovered that in fact pomegranate seeds are completely edible. Most of the fruit is made up of tiny pockets of juice called arils with the crunchy seeds inside. You eat the arils, seeds and all (you can spit out the seeds if you want/fear being trapped in the underworld, but it’s not necessary). Eaten whole, the arils provide a nice burst of juice and a satisfying crunch. The flavor is sweet and tart like a ripe berry, and pairs well with flavors like yogurt and balsamic vinegar–both of which play a role in the parfait below.
But first, a quick tutorial on how to get those delicious arils out of the fruit in the first place, because it’s trickier than it looks. There are a lot of different strategies for doing this, including whacking the fruit with a wooden spoon and soaking cut segments in water to loosen the membranes. I prefer the method below because it causes minimal damage to the arils which means there’s less of the staining juice to contend with, and more whole seeds to eat later. (Click a photo in the collage to open the slideshow, or read step-by-step instructions below.)
How to Break Down a Pomegranate
You will need:
- a paring knife
- a cutting board (use plastic or glass if you’re concerned about staining)
- a large bowl of water, optional
- Choose a firm, undamaged pomegranate that feels heavy for its size. They’re usually priced per fruit, so I get the biggest one I can!
- Store the fruit in the refrigerator until ready to use. Wash the outside just before cutting.
- Using a paring knife, cut a thin disk off the bottom (the stem side) of the fruit. Then, remove the blossom end, cutting a bit deeper. You should be able to see the arils and may cut into a few–that’s ok. Remove the cone-shaped piece of pith in the center.
- Now take a look at the shape of your pomegranate. You’ll see 5 to 7 ridges running from the top to the bottom–these roughly correspond to the segments of arils inside (similar to an orange). Score the skin from top to bottom along these ridges. Don’t go too deep or you’ll pierce the fruit below.
- Pick up the whole fruit, placing your thumbs in the hole in the center. Gently press down and out until the fruit cracks apart.
- Working with one section at a time, gently press and wiggle the arils out of the white pith and remove them to a bowl. With a bit of practice you’ll be able to quickly figure out the direction to push each aril to set it free. You can submerge the sections in a bowl of water to protect yourself from accidental sprays of juice, but I typically don’t. Discard the outer skin, pith, and any wrinkled or bruised arils.
- Store the seeds in a lidded container in the fridge. They’ll stay fresh for about a week.
Pomegranate seeds are great in sweet or savory dishes. Try them on oatmeal, in a salad or in this parfait:
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
- 1-2 tbsp chopped toasted nuts, such as pistachios or almonds
- 1 tsp balsamic glaze (You can purchase this at the grocery store or make your own by reducing balsamic vinegar over medium heat with a bit of honey until thick and syrupy. Store in the fridge until needed.)
- Mix together the yogurt, honey and vanilla. Taste and add more honey if you desire.
- In a small bowl, ramekin or glass, layer one-third of the pomegranate arils followed by half of the yogurt. Top the yogurt with the nuts and another third of the arils. Then layer on the remaining yogurt and pomegranate arils.
- Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.
*Nutrition facts calculated with full-fat Greek yogurt and 2 tbsp chopped almonds