Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette
by Victoria Challancin
I encountered pomegranate molasses when I first moved to the Arabian Gulf in 1975. Exotic, enticing, something totally new to me...we became immediate and lifelong friends. During the twenty-two years I have lived in Mexico, I have kept my pantry stocked with hard-to-find Middle Eastern ingredients such as dried black limes, powdered sumac, za'atar spice blend, and, of course, pomegranate molasses only by returning from visits to ethnic grocery stores I frequent when traveling. And since I only use ingredients that I can find locally in my cooking classes, I had to keep these treasures for strictly personal use. You can imagine how delighted I was to find some of these ingredients suddenly available here in San Miguel de Allende, where I live. [Note to local readers: pomegranate molasses is now available at Luna de Queso, a truly excellent source for so many ingredients and artisan cheeses, located on Ancha de San Antonio in front of the Telmex office].
When friends came to a vaguely-themed Middle Eastern dinner recently, I tossed together a vinaigrette using pomegranate molasses for a salad of organic lettuces, yellow bell pepper, tiny organic yellow tomatoes, onion, and pomegranate seeds. Unfortunately, the photo was taken at night with a flash, but I think you will get the idea. Pomegranate molasses is both sweet and sour, concentrated and rich. For this salad I added a touch of agave nectar and a squeeze of lemon. Variations, depending on what you are serving it with, are boundless. Try adding a bit of fresh ginger, chile, pistachio or walnuts, or mustard. Change the vinegars--raspberry, balsamic fig, sherry, or red wine would all be nice. Nut oils would also be great with this. I am posting an approximation, as all vinaigrettes are, as the cook is always going to tinker with it to get the desired balance of flavors.
This vinaigrette would make a nice glaze for seafood. And it positively shines in salads made with couscous, quinoa, and bulgur wheat. Fruits go with it as well: apples, pears, avocado, persimmons, citrus.
Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette Recipe
by Victoria Challancin
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons unflavored rice vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground sumac
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Place ingredients in a bowl. Beat with a fork or whisk until emulsified and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings according to personal preferences.
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved