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Pomegranate & Pistachio Crostinis

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© 2013 Helana Brigman
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The below post appeared as part of my November 28th with Baton Rouge’s state newspaper, The Advocate.  For the print-run version online, see here.

Helana

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With Christmas growing closer, I wanted to share one of the freshest ways to bring red and green to your table this holiday season: ruby red pomegranate seeds and green pistachio nuts.

When served together, this duo creates a part salty, part sweet mixture that perfectly embodies Christmas greens and reds. To serve, I sprinkle a blend of equal parts pomegranates and pistachios across bread smothered in goat cheese. Not a fan of goat cheese? Try Brie or your favorite mild, spreadable cheese as a substitute. 

The pomegranate is a member of the lythaceae family and popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, but the fruit-bearing shrub grows well in our humid Louisiana climates. High in fiber and vitamins C and K, pomegranate seeds make for a healthful choice this holiday season and are a great way to add a punch of color to a dish. 

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Pictured: ruby red pomegranate seeds (“arils”) can be easily removed from their rind and white tissue membrane through two different methods: (1) using a wooden spoon and/or (2) massaging the seeds from the white tissue.

Instead of spending valuable time this Christmas baking cakes or skewering fancy appetizers, allow yourself the perks of our local winter produce and take it easy. Pomegranate seeds can be removed ahead of time and sprinkled over a dish when your guests arrive. But if you’re new to working with the red arils (seeds), here are some seeding tips.

Wooden spoon method—My family swears by this technique: cut the pomegranate in half crosswise (not top to bottom) and turn the fruit seed-side down over a bowl. Using a wooden spoon, hold the fruit steady above the bowl and whack the back of the pomegranate several times until all of the seeds fall out.  

“Massaging” method—Cut the pomegranate into quarters and gently massage the arils (seeds) from the papery skin inside. Do this process over a bowl (gently) until all of the fruit’s seeds are released. Note: this method allows you a little more control during the seeding process without the force or splatter of the wooden spoon method. It also prevents accidentally bruising the fruit. 

Of the methods I’ve tried for seeding Louisiana pomegranates, these two are my favorite, but if you find that any white membranes still stick to the fruit, run the seeds under cold water to loosen their grip (the white membranes can be bitter).

As the holidays grow closer, instead of reaching for red and green food coloring, try reaching for these Pomegranate Pistachio Crostinis. Whether you use goat cheese, Brie, crackers or baguettes, this recipe is one of the freshest ways to see red and green on your table.

Pomegranate Pistachio Crostinis with Goat Cheese

Makes: 12-15 servings (appetizer)

Ingredients:

* 1 pomegranate, seeded

* 1 baguette, cut into 1-inch slices

* 1 cup salted pistachios

* 5 ounces semi-soft goat cheese, or other soft spreadable cheese like Brie

1.) Seed pomegranate: cut pomegranate in half and remove arils (seeds) from the fruit’s white tissue membranes. Toss pomegranates with pistachios.

2.) Cut baguette, at a diagonal, into 1-inch slices. Spread baguette slices with goat cheese and sprinkle with pomegranate and pistachio mixture. Optional: Toast baguettes in olive oil ahead of time for a crispier, more decadent appetizer.

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Pomegranate & Pistachio Crostinis, 4.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
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