Tangy ‘Good Omens’ for the Holiday


Find some special recipes for the fruit traditionally associated with Rosh Hashanah. 

Pomegranates are a beautiful, majestic fruit with a crown on top, resembling nothing else on produce stands. In areas with a high concentration of Jews, you’re likely to come across more of them in the next couple of weeks. There’s that Jewish geography connection. 
In many traditional families, the pomegranate (rimon in Hebrew) is one of the “good omens” eaten on Rosh Hashanah, as we beseech God to judge our merits to be as plentiful as the seeds of the rimon.
According to tradition, the rimon has 613 seeds, corresponding to the number of mitzvot. (Children like taking apart a pomegranate and counting the seeds for themselves. I won’t reveal the secret results.)
Definitely different, the pomegranate’s leathery red-to-pink-to-yellow skin with a parchment-like texture houses a tangy-sweet flesh bursting with juice. It is actually a collection of hundreds of tiny whole fruits, separated into clusters by a yellowish-white membrane. The shiny seeds have a translucent pulp that gives them an appealing sweet-tart flavor. That’s the part you eat.
Quality pomegranates will be large, firm, smooth-skinned and heavy for their size. The coloring will be an even deep-red and there will be few skin blemishes. Numerous brown or scarred areas on the skin or soft spots indicate an old product. Small fruit will mean smaller, less juicy seeds with more waste. 
There are various methods for removing the seeds and avoiding pomegranate stains. But truly, I find the best way is just to cut the fruit into sections and dig in. Be sure to remove all the pith, and don’t get too anxious about potential stains — they are nothing to get excited about.
Pomegranate seeds can decorate as well as be an integral part of most any dish: salads, fruit desserts, cakes or puddings. They can garnish rice dishes, pancakes, waffles or ice cream sundaes. The juice can be used as a marinade or glaze for chicken or lamb. 
Roasted Eggplant with Pomegranates, Apples and Italian Parsley
8 baby eggplants, washed and dried
3 Tbsps. olive oil, divided
freshly ground black pepper
1 small green apple, peeled and diced 
1 purple onion, thinly sliced
1-2 tsps. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1⁄4 cup chopped Italian parsley
seeds of 1⁄2 medium pomegranate
Preheat oven to 350˚. Line a large cookie sheet with baking paper. Cut baby eggplants in half and arrange on sheet, skin side down.
Brush eggplants with 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove eggplants from oven. While eggplants are roasting, combine the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill.
Before serving, arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with extra parsley and pomegranate seeds, if so desired.
Serves 8.
Wheatberry Salad
1 cup wheatberries
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
4 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1⁄2 cup chopped mint leaves (can substitute cilantro leaves)
1⁄3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Combine wheatberries and salt in a medium bowl. Cover with 1 cup boiling water and cover the bowl until water is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
Toss the wheatberries with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Pomegranate-Frosted Sugar Cookies
(Dairy or Pareve)
11⁄4 cups sugar
1 cup butter or pareve margarine
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
21⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
juice of 1⁄2-1 pomegranate
1⁄2-3⁄4 cup sugar 
Preheat oven to 350˚. Cover 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Cream sugar and butter; beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
Stir in flour and baking soda.
Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper. Do not flatten.
Bake about 10 minutes until tops are cracked and starting to turn golden. Remove to a rack to cool.
When cookies have cooled, pour a few spoonfuls of pomegranate juice on a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle with sugar and stir with a fork.
Add more pomegranate juice if needed. Stir until all the sugar is coated. Dip about half of each cookie into the colored sugar and let set on a rack.
Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.
Pomegranate Apple-Scented Cake
(Pareve or Dairy)
1 cup sugar 
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 cups all-purpose flour 
 2½ teaspoons baking powder 
1 pinch salt 
1 cup apple juice
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Cream sugar and butter; mix in egg and vanilla until smooth.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl; stir into first mixture alternately with apple juice; stir until smooth.
Mix in pomegranate seeds.
Pour batter into greased and floured 8 X 11-inch baking pan.
Bake in medium oven until light brown on top, about 25 minutes,
Serves 8.
Rivka Tal has lived in Jerusalem since 1966. She is a translator and food writer. Email her at: [email protected]


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