Digging for rubies (lamb salad w/ potatoes & pomegranates)

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with pomegranates over the years. There are many different varieties and each has (understandably) different taste, but unfortunately their varieties aren’t listed when sold so when I’ve purchased them in the past, it hasn’t been till I’ve actually taken them home and tasted the first seed.

When Royal Pom contacted me to let me know that they were producing Australia’s first commercially grown pomegranates and would I like to try them, I jumped on the opportunity like a fat man on cake. F*CK YES, BABY!

The first surprise I had was when they first arrived – geezus, the fruit were so big that they could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Bigger than a cricket ball, they were red and heavy in the hand, and I couldn’t wait to crack them open.

Once I did, I was almost breathless with their beauty. Big luscious arils (the actual name for the seeds contained inside), as dark and shiny as rubies packed inside the thick protective skin. I didn’t want to waste a single one, so I made sure I was extremely careful in extracting these treasures. I scored the skin and carefully broke the fruit apart, then cracked them carefully into smaller segments. After a 10 minute soak in cold water, I set to work to extract the gems, fingers gently probing between each layer of membrane inside and pulling out the arils one at a time.

Pomegranate seeds/arils (whatever you call them) can be difficult and time-consuming compared to getting to the goods for most other fruit, but they are well worth the effort. Once the seeds have been pulled out, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge – just put a layer of paper towel underneath them to absorb any moisture that forms.

The flavour of pomegranate is also wonderful – the arils have a wonderful sweetness with a touch of sourness, and the actual seed inside the aril is somewhat crunchy with the depth of a spice. I believe that in some cultures, the seeds are actually stripped from the aril, dried and ground into a regular kitchen spice much like cumin or nutmeg!

At any rate, one pomegranate wielded about 1 1/2 cups of arils, and then I sat there looking at them, mystified. In the past, I had just juiced them or turned them into tea, but these tasted so marvellous that I thought I should do something different, incorporate them into a dish where their uniqueness would add to the depth of flavour and textures.

I had a quick look inside the fridge and freezer to see what ingredients I had handy, and managed to find some heart-smart lamb leg steaks, potatoes, cos lettuce and lemons…all of which I thought would work delightfully together. After tasting the dish, I believe that some crumbled fetta or goats cheese would also be sublime here, but part of cooking is often just working with what you have.

Thankfully, what I had led to a little kitchen magic ;-)

Lamb Salad with Potatoes and Pomegranates

Ingredients (to serve 4)
4 small/medium lean lamb steaks (if you’re not a lamb fan, some poached chicken breast would also be quite nice)
3-4 medium to large clean potatoes
2 medium sized heads of cos lettuce
2 lemons
3 cloves garlic
About 1 cup pomegranate arils (from 1 large, ripe pomegranate)
Aged balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste (but only if you REALLY need it…there’s plenty of flavour here already!)

Apologies, there are no step-by-step photos for this dish as for some reason the files became corrupt…but honestly, this is easy enough that I don’t think they’re necessary :)

1. Using a zest, take off the zest of one of the lemons into a bowl, then add the lemon juice. Toss the lamb steaks through the lemon juice and zest and place in the fridge to marinate for about an hour.

2. While the lamb is marinating, boil the potatoes till cooked through (test with a skewer), peel and chop into bite-sized segments. Zest and juice the second lemon into a large bowl, push the garlic through a garlic press and add to the bowl, then add the potato segments and toss through.

3. Separate the lettuce heads into leaves, wash thoroughly and then spin in a salad spinner or shake about inside a clean dishcloth to dry off. Place the leaves onto four plates, then scatter the potato on top of them.

4. Heat up a heavy nonstick frying pan with a drizzle of oil over a medium-high flame, then cook the lamb steaks one at a time, about 3-4 minutes each side took char the outside but leave them slightly rare in the middle. Once they are cooked, slice into bite-sized pieces and add to each dish.

5. Scatter each dish with about 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (a small handful), then drizzle them with a little balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.

This is one of those salads that needs a little effort because of the need to prepare each component separately, but the harmony of their flavours combined is one that I would definitely encourage you to try :)

[tags]Pomegranate, salad, lamb, potato, recipes, healthy[/tags]

Comments

  1. i really love pomegranates. Your salad is exactly the kind of thing that I love to eat. The arils really make the salad look beautiful and enticing

  2. what a simply and delicious recipe! I absolutely love it!

  3. This looks so delicious! I bet it would be tasty with fresh spinach too.

  4. Still yet to try them… one day.

  5. God I miss lamb!

    Looks great and I can imagine the smell of the combination of lamb and lemon together… YUMMMMMMooo!!!

  6. @Amy @ cookbookmaniac – Thanks for the lovely comment hon :)

    @Paula – Thanks hon :)

    @Jessy – Absolutely :)

    @Fiona – Pomegranates are fabulous! Unfortunately the season is over for the year but you should try and get some next year :)

    @Trung – Lamb does work so well with lemon :)

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