This stuff is like crack. Seriously. Pomegranate molasses, which is made by boiling down the juice of a tart variety of pomegranates, is one of my favorite secret ingredients. I have heard of it for some time, but had been a bit shy about using it. My friend Holly, who is a food scholar, researcher, and cook extraordinaire who has spent much time cooking in the Middle East, introduced me to it, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Similarly to tamarind concentrate or paste, pomegranate molasses has an addictive tang that’s hard to replicate with any other substitute.
Paula Wolfert, Middle Eastern cooking guru, says the following about the ingredient: “Pomegranate molasses is an essential ingredient…has a wonderful flavor and a heady aroma, and its thickness and dark color make food look very appealing. It keeps almost indefinitely. The uses for this thick, tangy, piquant syrup are many. It blends well with walnuts, adds a tart and pungent flavor to beans, sharpens the taste of poultry, gives a clean, tart taste to fish, gives an astringent edge to salads and vegetables, and is a great tenderizer for lamb and pork. It can also be diluted and used for sharp drinks and tart sorbets.”
I’ve used it in a lot of things lately: champagne cocktails, the addictive Turkish bulgar salad kısır, salad dressings and marinades . . . the list goes on and on, and I can even eat it off the spoon.
Anyway, while browsing through one of my favorite cookbooks, Paula Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean: 215 Healthy, Vibrant, and Inspired Recipes, I came across a recipe for kibbe accompanied by a lamb stew with carrots and pomegranate molasses. I’m not a meat eater, but the pomegranate molasses glazed carrots really appealed, so I figured I’d try out the recipe. Cooking with carrots is also a favorite thing of mine since carrots are: 1) cheap! 2) the organic ones are also cheap and 3) almost always readily available and not bad out of season–when I was unemployed and my husband was a grad student, carrots were always in our refrigerator because of their affordability.
I followed the recipe directions and slightly overcooked the carrots for my taste, so I’ve cut the cooking time down below and modified the recipe slightly to my tastes. I’m always looking for exciting new vegetable side dish alternatives to my same old go-to dishes like steamed or roasted broccoli, and so I think that this one is a keeper.
Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Carrots
adapted from Paula Wolfert’s recipe, “Kibbeh with Glazed Carrots and Pomegranate”
- 1 lb. carrots, peeled
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tb. butter or olive oil
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1.5 tsp. dried mint
- 2 tsp. pomegranate molasses