Pomegranate Cucumber Salad

Mint_pomegranate_cucumber_salad

The scent of pomegranate is as fascinating as its jewel box stuffed with rubies appearance. Biting into the small glossy seeds, one notices the velvety tartness, the floral sweetness, the woody sharpness of the seeds and the green powderiness of the white pith. It is an incredibly complex and appealing flavor that straddles the line between fruit and wine. In perfumery, the pomegranate is often paired with the citrus notes (Guerlain Samsara Shine, Dior Addict 2), florals (Annick Goutal Quel Amour!, Gucci Envy Me) and woods (Calvin Klein Euphoria and Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir), all of which present a great setting for the tartness of fruit.

In my flavor experiments, trying to derive more from this multifaceted note, I have decided to layer pomegranate with the green and citrusy notes, amplifying the qualities already present. The cucumber was my first choice, because it has the pleasantly crunchy texture; however, the variations with pineapple, starfruit and fennel also work really well.

The salad allows the red wine overtones of pomegranate to stand out, and it is a perfect accompaniment to the complex and dark flavors such as grilled seafood, roasted meat or vegetables. Chicken Arabie would be a great main course to serve with this salad. The burst of flavors and textures in each bite is very exciting—the crunch of sweet and tart pomegranate seeds, the chill of crushed mint leaves and the lemony verdancy of cucumber. Moreover, it looks quite striking with the ruby red berries scattered against the green mélange of cucumber and herbs. Another plus is that it takes only 5-10 minutes to put this salad together.

Pomegranate and Mint Cucumber Salad

Ingredients
Serves 2

1 medium cucumber
2 tablespoons of chopped mint
1 scallion
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper
¼ cup of pomegranate seeds

I chopped fresh mint and scallions, a combination that is already quite fascinating—pungent, green, with a cooling peppery facet. I sliced cucumber thinly and tossed it with the lemon juice, olive oil, minced herbs, salt and pepper. While cucumber was steeping in its lemony vinaigrette, I cut pomegranate in half over a big bowl. I then separated it in quarters and removed the seeds leaving the white pith behind. This step is best done wearing black clothes/apron, unless you do not mind magenta stains. Before serving the salad, I sprinkled the pomegranate seeds on top and tossed everything lightly.

Variation: substitute cucumber with pineapple, starfruit, or fresh fennel.

Photo © Bois de Jasmin.

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20 Comments

  • Anjali: Pomegranates are my very favorite fruit — I always feel, like you said, that they are little jewel boxes, teeming with garnets. This salad looks mouthwatering, and you have inspired even me (who generally cannot be bothered to do more cooking than heating up a Hot Pocket) to try it out 🙂 November 17, 2006 at 2:59am Reply

  • Elle: You absolutely need to write a perfumer’s cookbook. Brilliant! Pomegranates are w/out doubt my favorite fruit – I can’t resist that combination of gorgeous visual and great taste. Will be making this salad over the weekend. November 17, 2006 at 8:03am Reply

  • benvenuta: Another recipe! I`m not much of a pomegranate fan, but this sounds good. Maybe I`ll make it next time I see a pomegranate in a store.

    I forgot to report on my attempt on Chicken Arabie. I did it last Saturday. As it often happens with first attempts, it wasn`t perfect, but it was still very good. But it wasn`t really Chicken Arabie, because I didn`t have cardamom (when BF and I went grocery shopping, BF was too excited to go look at some tech toy they had in that supermarket and grabbed a container of milled coriander seeds instead of cardamom. When I discovered it at home, he said I can use the coriander: “I won`t know the difference!”. I said that it was clear that he didn`t see any difference, be it visual or in flavor, but I could`t use the coriander. He knows most spices well, but has no experience with cardamom.)
    Plus he meddled into my cooking, and when he does that, it never ends well, although he is very good cook and I`m still only a beginner. I allowed him to assist with seasoning (I should know better by now) and he put too much pepper on the chicken. Because of that, I couldn`t taste many flavor nuances in the chicken, because it was too hot. He with his cigarillo-blunted taste buds of course likes very hot food.
    I also managed to make the meat too dry in the last phase of cooking.
    Despite all flaws it was still good, BF pronounced it a success and we`ll add this recipe to our permanent repertoire.
    We ate rice with it. What do you suggest as best side dish for Chicken Arabie? (Except pomegranate salad)

    So I`m going to try once more and I already have chicken in marinade in the fridge to make in the evening.

    I checked back on your site for recipes and found that I managed to overlook most of them. The Black Pepper and Potatoes Salad sounds very good too. I`ll try it soon.

    I apologize for such a long comment. I hope I at least made you chuckle. November 17, 2006 at 8:05am Reply

  • March: I am really enjoying these recipes — maybe I’ll make a Bois de Jasmin dinner?! Thanks.

    PS How do you tell when a pom is ripe? Is that an issue, or do I just buy one? I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought one (although I’ve had the seeds on things in restaurants, and they’re wonderful!) November 17, 2006 at 8:15am Reply

  • Marina: I wholeheartedly second what Elle said. You must write a cookbook from a perfume-related sort of angle!
    The salad sounds mouthwateringly good. November 17, 2006 at 8:33am Reply

  • Leopoldo: Such a fresh and beautiful looking salad.

    There’s a great recipe for a pomegranate and bulgur wheat salad I’ve got somewhere, with a pomegranate molasses dressing. Me oh my, it’s fantastic winter fayre – especially with grilled fish. I’ll have to dig it out. November 17, 2006 at 11:42am Reply

  • Tania: This salad promises to be both savory and refreshing: wonderful. I love these posts linking flavor and fragrance. I hope you’ll do more! November 17, 2006 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Anjali, when I was little, my mother had a garnet necklace. I believe back then that it was made out of pomegranate seeds. This salad is very easy to make, I promise! November 17, 2006 at 2:44pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Elle, thank you! That is a great idea! We shall see what happens with it. I hope that you like this salad and let me know how it turns out. November 17, 2006 at 2:46pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Benvenuta, you can make this salad with orange instead of pomegranate. Just cut up an orange in sections and toss lightly with the dressing to preserve the shape. Or any other tart fruit would work. Orange and mint is just such a great combination.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience of Chicken Arabie! Coriander would be a good spice to use as well. To prevent the meat from drying out, keep an eye on it when it is in the broiler. And you can add a bit of oil to the glaze. Just keep it there for a couple of minutes–enough to turn the top golden. You can also use chicken breast with skin, in which case, it is easier to protect the meat from drying out. At any rate, it sounds like you have a great and helpful boyfriend! 🙂 November 17, 2006 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: March, Bois de Jasmin dinner! Please let me know if you do end up making anything.

    When picking pomegranates, select the ones that are dark red, with no blemishes and soft spots. They should be heavy, with the skin being smooth and thick, like well-tanned leather. If the flower edge looks completely dry and brown, then pass. It probably means that the fruit was picked a long time ago, and the chances are that it shall be dry inside. November 17, 2006 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Marina, thank you, if this comes to fruition, you guys shall be the first to know! November 17, 2006 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Leopoldo, wow, pomegranate bulgur salad sounds fantastic! I love pomegranates and the moment I spot them at the store, I end up eating everything pomegranate for days. November 17, 2006 at 2:58pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Tania, I shall definitely do so! It is a lot of fun for me as well. November 17, 2006 at 2:59pm Reply

  • Ina: Sounds mouthwatering!! But since it’s so cold in Chicago, do you have any pomegranate soup recipes? ;D November 17, 2006 at 3:41pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Ina, sure! Here is one I make from time to time:
    1 c pink lentils (masoor dal, which you can find at Whole Foods or Indian grocery stores)
    4 c water
    1/4 teaspoon turmeric
    1 chopped tomato (fresh or 2 canned)
    1 tablespoon oil
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 chopped onion
    2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    salt, pepper, chili powder to taste
    cilantro leaves to garnish

    Cook lentils in water with salt, turmeric and tomato (you can also add a little bit of grated ginger root) till soft. Add water as necessary to create the thickness level you prefer. While lentils are cooking, heat up the oil, add cumin seeds and fry till they turn 2 shades darker. Add onion and saute till it turns transparent and slightly golden. Add to the soup in the last moments and cook for 10-15 minutes more. 5 min before you take it off the heat, add pomegranate molasses and lemon juice and other seasonings to taste. Garnish with cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds (if you have any). Prijatnogo apetita! November 17, 2006 at 3:48pm Reply

  • Ina: Nyam-nyam!! Thanks! 🙂 November 17, 2006 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Robin: Better than a cookbook — your own Food Network show. My son, oddly enough, is addicted to Food Network. He particularly loves Rachel Ray. Maybe he has a crush on her, or maybe the novelty of watching women cook just amuses him since he never sees it at home. November 17, 2006 at 7:17pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Ina, you are welcome! It is an Azeri recipe as made by my stepmother. November 17, 2006 at 8:57pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: R, yes, that is exactly what I need! 🙂 Rachel Ray is cute, so I would not be surprised. However, the thought of a young boy addicted to Food Network really makes me smile. November 17, 2006 at 8:59pm Reply

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