Winter Fruit Salad
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Having written thus far about chocolatey, creamy and sugary treats, the Mammy is breaking out in me and I feel morally obliged to mention a fresh fruit offering. I am a very visual cook, so while taste, seasonality and flavour are all paramount, the overall look of a dish is also important to me – we eat with our eyes. So that brings me to brilliantly coloured oranges and the jewels that are pomegranate seeds. At this time of year, I use pomegranate seeds constantly. They add sparkle to the simplest of salads.
To segment the oranges, use a sharp knife and start at the top and slice downwards, following the curve of the fruit. Try to cut away all of the skin and the pith without taking too much of the fruit. I usually err on the side of caution and then go back afterwards to trim up spots that I missed. Slip the knife between one of the segments and the connective membrane. Cut until you reach the middle of the orange, but don't cut through any of the membrane. Go slowly and keep your fingers out of the way. Use a scooping motion to turn the knife back on itself, hook under the bottom edge of the segment, and pry it away. The side that is still attached to a membrane will peel away, leaving you with a perfect wedge. Repeat with all the other segments. The first segment is always the hardest to get out and the rest are a lot easier.
Preparing a pomegranate doesn't have to be a sticky, messy job – but do wear an apron and if you are fussy about your hands being stained use latex gloves – as the juice will stain. Insert a paring knife into the top of the pomegranate, angling toward the middle. Cut a cone-shaped piece and gently pry it out. Then, cut a thin slice from the bottom of the pomegranate. Score the ridges – looking down at the pomegranate, you'll see ridges radiating out from the top. Run your paring knife along those ridges, scoring the skin and barely cutting into the pith. Break the pomegranate into segments. Hold the pomegranate in both hands with your thumbs on the cone-shaped indention on top. Gently tear the two halves apart. They should split evenly along the score-marks. Continue tearing the pomegranate along the score marks into individual segments. Release the seeds into a bowl of water. Working one segment at a time, submerge a segment into the water and gently pry away the seeds with your fingertips. The seeds will sink to the bottom while bits of the membrane will float to the top. Repeat with all your segments. I find this whole process very therapeutic. Strain the seeds. Use or store the seeds.
To assemble your salad, sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on the orange segments. Depending on the sweetness of the oranges, I sometimes drizzle a little honey over the fruit, then to add an extra dimension in terms of colour and texture I sprinkle some chopped shelled pistachio nuts on top.
Photography: Shane O Neill
Food styling: Leona Humphries, onefineplate.com