Ingredients of the week: aubergines and pomegranates

With their versatile nature and delicious flavour, we look at some of the reasons why aubergines and pomegranates are two fruits you’ll want to get your fill of this month

AUBERGINES

Uber genes

Aubergine (eggplant to some) is a fruit long revered for its nutritional qualities and culinary adaptability.

Imagine a world...

without aubergines: there’d be no baba ganoush or Italian melanzane parmigiana; no Greek moussaka or French ratatouille; nothing so good at soaking up the fiery flavours of South Asian food.

Pinch of salt?

The theory goes that you should salt aubergines before you cook them, the reason being that it draws out the moisture and bitterness. But non-bitter aubergines have been around for some time and so, while you’ll still want to salt them when frying, there’s no need when baking or roasting. Which is great news, as it means you can get straight down to cooking.


POMEGRANATES

Pretty as a picture

From marble statues that date back to 800 BC to Islamic art featuring the fruit as a symbol of prosperity and a painting by Pablo Picasso, the pomegranate has been a source of artistic and cultural inspiration for thousands of years.

Sow the seeds

There are a couple of ways to get your hands on the jumble of ruby-red seeds packed inside a pomegranate. There’s the fun way, where you use the back of a spoon (or a rolling pin) to whack an upturned pomegranate half until all the seeds tumble out and into a bowl. Or there’s the less fun but more relaxing and cleaner way, which sees the fruit submerged under water and calls for you to use your thumbs to gently coax – almost massage – the seeds from the pith.

Treasure hunt

We’re perfectly happy to snack on a tightly packed tub of pomegranate seeds or to kick back with a glass of juice (making your own is pretty easy and takes you a step closer to making pomegranate molasses, too). But we never miss a chance to use the fruit in our food. The seeds are gorgeous as the crowning jewels of nourishing salads and desserts that are one part delicious, another part almost-healthy; hearty and spicy stews can rely on the sweet-sour burst of the seeds to help balance the richness, while we’re fond of using pomegranate molasses to bring finesse to dressings and sheen to sauces that accompany robust meat dishes.

Pomegranates are high in fibre and low in calories. They’re full of vitamins C and K and are positively bursting with antioxidants.