Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pear, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Seed Salad

Pomegranates are currently in season, and they are such a versatile seasonal delight. The fruits can be eaten whole, and the seeds are slightly sweet and surprisingly sour. The seeds do not soften and retain a sharp crunch that is just delicious tossed in salads, mixed into rice pilaf or sprinkled in ice cream or on a fruit tart. Pomegranates are native to Iran, but can be found all over the Caucuses and Asia, from Afghanistan and India to Azerbaijan and Malaysia.

Half of a pomegranate
50 grams prosciutto (6 slices)
3 ripe pears, sliced in half and in eighths
1 tablespoon olive oil
100g rocket
coarse sea salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Start by releasing the pomegranate seeds. The best way to do it is to halve the pomegranate along it's belly, then hold the half firmly in your hand with the seeds facing your palm. Over a large bowl, begin to bash the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon. Don't hit too hard or you'll bruise the seeds and break the skin. Effortlessly, the seeds will magically from the pith. Pick out any white skin that falls in.
On a serving platter, arrange layers of spinach and rocket, pears and shreds of prosciutto and then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
Whisk syrup, garlic and vinegar, then slowly pour in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then toss with salad and serve immediately.

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