Ode to the pomegranate, the sweet, the sour, the crunch! With tomatoes and fresh herbs? We’re digging in. With za’atar spice blend? We’re jumping for joy!
I can just imagine the first time someone ran across a leathery, odd-looking pomegranate and decided, hey, ‘let’s break that open’! And who defied their mother’s warnings about eating seeds? It has occurred to me in passing that it’s a bit crazy how crazy we are about pomegranate seeds.
They’ve even been elevated them to superfood status, but let’s admit, we eat them because they are addictively sweet and sour like naughty candy. And because we are grown-ups here, we’re going to be civilized and put them in a salad. No, we are not going to cut the in half and dig the seeds out with a spoon and directly into our mouths.
That spoon thing? I did that as a kid, and I can’t imagine how messy it was. I’m sure I looked like I committed a more serious infraction than seed-eating.
I’ve yet to come upon a foolproof method to remove the seeds from pomegranates. As careful as I am, sometimes, there is still emerging evidence from the procedure several hours after we’ve eaten.
If you have a preferred way of separating pomegranate flesh from their seeds, please let me know. Meantime, we still prefer the method I used for festive pomegranate couscous salad. It’s a dance that goes like this:
1. Fill a large bowl about ¾ with water. Your hands are going in it, so don’t make it too hot or cold.
2. Give the pomegranate a roll on the kitchen counter, before cutting it open. This helps to loosen the seeds.
3. Grab a cutting board and a sharp knife and cut the pomegranate from the top down. Balance the pomegranate so that your hands are only on your knife.
4. Now, tear or cut each half (now, you have 4 pieces of pomegranate).
5. Grab that bowl of water and put it in the sink. This helps keep the mess at a minimum. Submerge one quarter into the water and gently start removing the seeds. Try turning the pieces skin-side, onto itself.
6. Once you get all the seeds removed, pick out any skin of pith, then rinse and drain them.
3. Grab on both sides of the cuts and tear the pomegranate into half so that you end up with 4 pieces.
4. Take one half of the pomegranate, submerge it into the water and gently start removing the seeds. You can use a method of turning each half, skin-side, onto itself.
5. Once you have removed the seeds, pick out any of the pith or skin from the bowl, rinse and drain.
Now, back off from the bowl, we are making pomegranate salad here!
You know those tempting bins filled with all those colorful little tomatoes? I can’t be the only one who sometimes unconsciously just brings them home. No plan in mind, I just needed the color and promise of little explosions of sweet tomato flavor when I started popping them into my mouth.
And as tempting as I might find those fresh tomatoes with pasta, they are fierce as main ingredients in salads. Just as our Thai tomato salad.
And if you’ve never had the experience of little tomatoes with pomegranate seeds, well, well. Get ready!
There’s no special dressing for this pomegranate salad. Fresh basil and mint along with za’atar spice blend and some squeezes of lemon support our main events. It’s all about celebrating flavors merged in a bowl.
How delightful are fresh herbs? The color, the aroma.
Don’t underestimate the versatility of fresh herbs. They have deserved relevance as rightful (and necessary) ingredients. We should all stop considering them as mere garnishes.
Fresh herbs demand our attention.
In particular, we need to keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible. This is really important is we’re using them raw in salads.
First, let’s all be basil friendly. Basil doesn’t like being kept in the fridge. It’s too dark, damp, and cold. We have the best luck with fresh basil if we buy the plants, but if you can’t do that, then keep it as a fresh herb bouquet. When you get it home, wash it, trim the ends, and place it in a small jar of water. Be sure that none of the leaves touch the water.
Mint, on the other hand, seems to thrive in the fridge. Keeping it on the counter in water hasn’t worked that well for me. And unless I have a mint plant, I find that fresh mint lasts longer in cooler air. If you want to keep it perky, store it between two slightly damp paper towels and put that in a freezer bag or container. You want something you can seal.
Just like with any fresh herb, keep an eye out for any browned or discolored leaver. Get them outta there right away. It’s the ‘one bad apple’ concept.
There is no need for an official or separate dressing for this pomegranate salad. Adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice are enough for a final zesty factor. The added acid also encourages the flavors to blend together.
Speaking of flavor, can we chat about Za’atar? This unique Middle Eastern spice blend is one of our favorites. It’s so tasty with bowls of chickpeas and quinoa, but with pomegranate and tomatoes. Special!
If you don’t have a stock of this already. Make it now. The only ‘cooking’ involved is toasting sesame seeds. Then just add cumin, sumac, ground coriander, thyme, and chili flakes.
And for goodness sake, make enough that you can keep some in the cabinet. You can reach for that when you make dressings (think tahini and lemon juice). Try sprinkling it over roasted veggies.
Now, as content as you might be to just include pomegranate and tomatoes and call it a salad, don’t miss out on the yellow (or orange) pepper and some thin slices of red onion. It adds a bit more sweetness, flavor, and color. And now, you have a balance of salad power with an enticing bowl of colors and flavors, not to mention textures. It’s all here!
What’s better than pomegranate salad with those tempting cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, and yes, Za’atar? Let me introduce you to the next day. If you have leftovers or you make this ahead of time, the flavor just keeps building.
Be greedy, grab the last of it for lunch. It would be great with quinoa or even rice if you’re looking for something more substantive. Toss in a few chickpeas, they’d like that. Be joyous about eating fresh, renewing food. Trust me, your body is. Peace.Print
Super fresh and zesty tomato and pomegranate salad with fresh herbs, and the unique flavor of Za’atar delivers a big punch of sweet, sour, and crunch.
- The seeds from 1 pomegranate (see my instructions about on how to remove the seeds)
- 2 pints (4 cups) cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut in half
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, cored, de-seeded and sliced into thin strips (you can also dice it if you like)
- 1 small red onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced into half-moons
- 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn into small pieces
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped or torn into small pieces
- 2 tsp. za’atar (or more depending on taste)
- ½ fresh lemon juice (2 Tbsp.)
- Pinch of flaky sea salt (optional)
Za’atar spice blend
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. sumac
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. chili flakes
- In a medium bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, tomatoes, yellow pepper, and red onion.
- Add the basil and mint and mix everything well.
- Next, add the Za’atar and lemon juice. Mix everything and taste. Add a bit of salt if desired.
- You can serve this salad immediately or put in the refrigerator and serve it later.
- There are several varieties of Za’atar spice blend available in supermarkets or specialty shops. The ingredients and amounts may vary slightly.
- The flavor of pomegranate salad will become more intense over time, so be mindful if you decide to add more Za’atar or salt.
- Category: On the Side
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: tomato and pomegranate salad with Za’atar