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Ingredient Spotlight: Pomegranate Molasses

Made from boiling down pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses is a thick and tangy syrup often found in Iranian, Turkish, and Lebanese cuisines—to name a few. Like pomegranate seeds themselves, the molasses is also somewhat earthy and slightly sweet. My local grocery store doesn't carry pomegranate molasses--yet!--but it's easily found on-line or at Middle Eastern markets. Or you can make your own by carefully reducing pomegranate juice. If you buy it, however, the molasses may contain a small amount of sugar, salt, and citric acid.

The molasses is wonderful in vinaigrette. Vinaigrettes usually contain three key components: a sweetener, an acid, and an emulsifier. They often get their sweetness from honey, their acidic kick from vinegar (often made from or fortified with wine), and their thickness from Dijon mustard (which also contains wine). Using pomegranate molasses in vinaigrette does the job of all three…plus, it’s a great salad dressing choice for both vegan and halal diets!

Think of pomegranate molasses also as a tangier substitute for aged balsamic vinegar. Use it sparingly over cheese tortellini & pesto; cantaloupe with prosciutto or Parmigiano-Reggiano (or both); watermelon, feta & mint salad; grilled eggplants, mushrooms & onions; roasted asparagus and pine nuts; grilled lamb chops spiced with oregano or marjoram; or seared beef tenderloin. Try it on a veggie and feta pizza.

Use the molasses in beverages. Add a splash to lemonade, iced tea, or a berry smoothie. Or try it in a mojito...substitute some of the lime juice with the molasses and throw in a few pomegranate seeds for color.

Wherever you use grenadine--like in a Tequila Sunrise or Shirley Temple--use pomegranate molasses instead. This makes sense: before it became a mixture of high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, and dyes, grenadine was actually made from pomegranate juice, sugar, and water.

Invest in a small bottle--some brands are less than $5.00--and give pomegranate molasses a try. Taste it by itself and then play around with it...

Or, stay tuned for a recipe featuring pomegranate molasses!

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