For many, pomegranates are a mysterious fruit. They have an exotic shape with skin so thick it is hard to believe they produce anything other than an unpleasant sour flavor.
However, don't be fooled, the pomegranate is one of the most rewarding fruits around. A nutrient-dense food, it is high in antioxidants and is believed to lower cholesterol, slow the spread of certain cancers, and prevent dental plaque, just to name a few.
It is no wonder that the sweet yet tart fruit that is all to quickly dismissed at the grocery store has a long history behind it.
In Greece, the fruit stood for a changing of the seasons, as well as good luck in the New Year, and in India and China symbolized fertility and prosperity.
Pomegranates are thought to be native to Persia, now modern-day Iran, where they represented strength.
To this day, throughout the Middle East, pomegranates are still widely used as more than just a culinary medium.
This stew, or Khoresht as the Persians call it, is the perfect recipe to help keep the cold at bay as the winter months roll in.
Traditionally, pomegranate syrup is used, but to keep the ingredients and recipe simple, I supplement pure pomegranate juice.
Compared to other dishes from this region, Fesenjan is rather sweet and tangy with a nutty depth, a welcome change from your typical cold-weather stews.
The flavors intensify over time, making this the perfect take along addition to any holiday party. To follow tradition, serve the stew over steamed basmati rice and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.
Yields: 6 servings
1/4 cup canola oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups walnuts, coarsely ground
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
In a medium Dutch oven, heat oil. Add chicken and cook until browned. As the chicken cooks, begin sauteing onions until softened. Add the garlic and pomegranate seeds and cook until it becomes aromatic, about 1 minute.
Add spices and seasoning, along with ground walnuts and stir until combined. Once the mixture thickens, add pomegranate juice and chicken broth.
Bring the stew to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Allow the stew to cook down for 1 hour, periodically skimming the top for any fat that may have risen.
Once the stew is to your desired thickness, serve over rice and garnish with the additional pomegranate seeds.
Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager. Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life. Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession.
A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge.
Her goal is to make gluten-free an option for everyone, not just those in need. Green may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.