If you’ve spent any considerable time in the South, chances are you’re familiar with the dark, thick and nutritious world of molasses. The molasses that is commonly used in the US is normally made from sugarcane or sugarbeets. But when you visit the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, you will find a variety of fruit that is used for molasses: grapes, carobs, mulberries, and my personal favorite, pomegranate.
Most types of molasses have a dense, sweet flavor that makes them worthy ingredients for desserts or dishes with sweet notes. Pomegranate molasses is different. As a fruit, pomegranate is all good for you with its antioxidant boosting, cholesterol and blood pressure reducing effects. However, what draws me to this molasses (which is a staple in Turkish cuisine) is not its potential health benefits but its biting, tangy yet sweet flavor! It’s flexible enough to adapt to many recipes. When used correctly, it can give you that subtle sour taste without being overwhelmingly tart.
What can you do with it? You can drizzle your summer tomatoes and salads with extra virgin olive oil and dash of pomegranate molasses. Or you can combine with spices and brush it on your meat as a marinade before grilling. Or use it to enrich rice, grain salads, and sauces. Here I am sharing with you my favorite grain salad, kısır (Turkish bulgur salad – pictured), dressed with olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and loaded with herbs. Give it a try. You might just find that pomegranate molasses will become your own “secret” ingredient, for use in all your dishes!
(Recipe for Kisir “below the fold.”)
Kısır (serves 4)
- 2 cups of fine bulgur
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups of hot, boiling water
- 1 medium size diced yellow onions
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1 cup chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley (or more for your taste)
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint (or more for your taste)
- 2 medium sized diced tomato
- ½ cup diced cucumber
- 4-5 finely chopped green onions
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1/2 tablespoon dry crushed mint (optional)
1. Place bulgur in a bowl. Add salt and pepper. Pour the boiling hot water over bulgur.
2. Cover the bowl with saran wrap or a lid and set aside for 20 minutes.
3. Saute yellow onions in 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan until they change their color to translucent.
4. Add onions to bulgur, stir, cover and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
5. Add tomato paste to bulgur mixture and mix until all the paste is very well blended with bulgur.
6. Add fresh mint, parsley, green onions, tomatoes, cucumber and other spices.
7. Whisk pomegranate molasses and olive oil together. Pour over bulgur and mix well until everything is well covered in the dressing (you can opt to use less olive oil (1/3 cup) and increase gradually until it suits your taste)
8. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste.