The pomegranate is a highly symbolic and significant fruit in Jewish tradition. Legend has it that every pomegranate contains exactly 613 seeds – the same as the number of mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah. The calyx at the end of a pomegranate resembles a 6-pointed star of David. The robe of the High Priest in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had pomegranates embroidered on its hem, interspersed with golden bells. And the pomegranate is one of the Seven Species of fruits and grains which the Torah names as special products of the land of Israel, and one which the spies brought back to Moses – although their giant grapes on a stick is a more well-known image!
Given all that (and more!) it’s not really surprising that many people have a custom to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish new year. Often the pomegranate is saved as a treat for the second day of the festival, as it offers those eating it a chance to say the shehecheyanu blessing, which is recited on special occasions, such as eating a fruit for the first time in the new year!
Pomegranates have a delicious sharp-sweet, slightly fragrant flavour which goes well in both savoury and sweet dishes. Since it was declared a ‘superfood’ (just look at that cape!) a few years ago, it has been popping up all over! One of the benefits of its trendiness though, is that it is now relatively easy to buy pots of prepared pomegranate seeds, saving you the bother of extracting them yourself – a task best accomplished outside, wearing head-to-toe overalls, unless you want to be forever stained with beautiful, vibrant and indelible juice.
This salad has been a fixture on our Rosh Hashanah menus for a few years. It’s very quick and simple to make, and it tastes fabulous! You can make it without the pomegranate seeds, but it won’t be quite as good. They add a delicious crunch, as well as their incomparable flavour.
I use the vacuum packed cooked beetroots for this salad, so it really is super-fast. You’re welcome to cook your own if you prefer, or you can make this with leftover cooked beets from another recipe.
Serves 3-4. Enjoy!
- 250g cooked beetroot - about 4 small/medium beetroots
- 1 orange
- 0.25 of a red onion
- 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Cut each beetroot into 8-10 wedges and place in a bowl.
- Cut the peel and pith from the orange, then, holding it over the bowl to catch any juice, cut between the membranes to release the segments. Once all the segments have been cut out, squeeze any remaining juice from the membranes. Cut each orange segment into halves.
- Finely slice the red onion and add to the bowl with the pomegranate seeds and olive oil. Stir gently to combine and coat everything in the juice/oil.
- If possible, allow to stand for a few minutes for the flavours to combine. Serve!
- You can use ready-cooked vacuum packed beetroot and prepared pomegranate seeds to make this salad even easier and faster!