About a month ago, Foodbuzz and POM Wonderful teamed up and asked Featured Publishers to submit their Pomegranate inspired dinner party menus and ideas. I was selected to host a party, and POM Wonderful sent me 4 dozen pomegranates, 6 coupons for bottles of POM Wonderful juice, and canvas bags for my guests. I began brainstorming and constructed a fall inspired, 5-course dinner menu and several different decorative touches using the pomegranates. Our dinners will be judged on three criteria, menu, decorations, and a video instructing the best way to open a pomegranate.
On Saturday evening, I hosted my pomegranate inspired dinner for several of my girlfriends and myself. I spent the day getting ready for the party, beginning with an elegant, wintry dining table. I incorporated many candles in various shades of red and purple and used silver as the accent color. Each place setting had a menu and a pomegranate used for seating assignments.
In the living room where we had our appetizers, I chose simple decorations, charger plates with rose petals and silver cake stands paired with more candles.
The mantle was a bit more dramatic and autumn inspired. Golden brown and green leaf garland dotted with white pillar candles and pomegranates would be perfect for Thanksgiving decor.
In the kitchen, I set up the pomegranate opening station. I used two glass cake pedestals to create a tree and filled it with pomegranates. You could also add sprigs of rosemary for an additional centerpiece idea with Christmas in mind. I set out a red cutting board and knife, a bowl of water, a sieve over another bowl, and the compost bucket. I also included the apron that POM Wonderful sent me and the mat with pomegranate cutting instructions.
In the bathroom, I supplied guests with pomegranate candies as well as pomegranate scented hand soap.
Before my guests arrived, I filled the water glasses and pitcher on the dining room table with ice water, lemon slices and pomegranate arils. I also set out the first course of the evening.
Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Hummus with Vegetables and Pita Chips
Puff Pastry with Brie and Pomegranate-Cranberry Relish
During the appetizers, I also served guests Pomegranate-Cherry Champagne Punch
After we sat and ate our appetizers, we went into the kitchen and I showed my guests how to open a pomegranate, and then let them open a few themselves.
Here is Caron modeling the apron
and opening a pomegranate.
After each guest had a chance to open a pomegranate, we took our seats at the table. I placed carafes of Pomegranate Sangria on the table for us to enjoy with dinner.
Caramelized Onion, Pomegranate and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
with Creme Fraiche, Toasted Hazelnuts and Pomegranate Arils
The soup had great depth of flavor as a result of the caramelized onion base, the pomegranate juice added a sweet and tangy flavor, and the roasted squash tasted like velvet. The creme fraiche added a nice creaminess, and the nuts and arils offered a contrasting crunch.
Pomegranate and Red Wine Poached Pear Salad
with Gorgonzola, Candied Pecans and Arils
& Creamy Pomegranate-Yogurt Vinaigrette
The star of the salad was the poached pears, full of flavor and spice from the poaching pomegranate juice. The Gorgonzola added tang while the candied pecans were sweet and crunchy. The vinaigrette was made with a pomegranate reduction, yogurt, pomegranate infused balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Two-Tone Ravioli stuffed with Pomegranate Braised Cremini Mushrooms and Ricotta
with a Pesto and Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Duo
The pasta dough was infused with pure pomegranate juice on one side and plain egg yolk pasta dough on the other. The filling was a creamy ricotta studded with thyme and pomegranate braised mushrooms. The pesto was a classic recipe paired with a creamy, lightly spiced roasted red pepper sauce.
Following dinner, I invited my guests to try their hand at pomegranate related trivia to win a few prizes and let our dinner digest before dessert. POM Wonderful supplied each guest with a canvas tote bag, a bracelet, a chef's series pack of recipe cards and a coupon for a bottle of pomegranate juice.
I provided each guest with a bag of two Pomegranate Chocolate Chip Cookies
and a jar of the Pomegranate-Cranberry Relish that was the topping for our appetizer.
I excused myself while my guests took their seats and changed into my Princess Pomegranate outfit for the trivia portion of the evening. I constructed this costume for the video I recorded on how to open a pomegranate. If you look at POM Wonderful literature, you'll see they often have a bottle of POM Wonderful in a cape because studies have shown pomegranates and 100% pomegranate juice have many health benefits!
Here are the note cards with the questions I asked, all numerical answers. We went around the room "Price is Right" bidding style, and each guest received a heart when they were correct. In the end, the person with the most hearts won!
Q: How many calories are in 100g of pom arils? A: 86
Q: How many years does it take for a tree to produce fruit? A: 9 years
Q: How many acres of pom tree orchards does POM Wonderful own? A: 18,000
Q: Where does 100% POM Wonderful juice score on the Antioxidant Potency Scale? A: 96
Q: How many arils are in the average pomegranate? A: 613
Q: Pomegranates were cultivated in Persia in what year? A: 2000BC
Q: Who brought Pomegranates to California? A: The Spainiards
After playing trivia, our dessert was ready!
Pomegranate-Cranberry Challah Bread Pudding with Nutella Swirl
and Pomegranate Gellato with Hazelnut Crunch
The challah was homemade, and the perfect base for soaking up the creamy milk and egg. A hidden spoonful of nutella in the center added a delicious surprising flavor. The pomegranate gellato was smooth and creamy and the candied hazelnuts added crunch to the creamy dish.
After five delicious Pomegranate inspired courses and bags of pomegranates and products to take home, my guests and I had a fabulous evening!
I hope that you try cooking and baking with pomegranates as they are in season from now until about January. They are beautiful additions to meals and decor, and will be a lovely centerpiece at your holiday gatherings. I will be posting the recipes for all of the dishes in this post throughout the week.
POM Wonderful will be selecting ten winners based on their POM Parties. Though the public cannot vote, if you think I did a good job with my party, please leave a comment on their Facebook wall or tweet a link to my post with the hashtag #pomparty and @veggieash
Thanks for all of your support!