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Sweet notes from bright seeds and crisp pods

November 07, 2007|Russ Parsons | Times Staff Writer

Peaking

Pomegranates: Sweet and tangy as they are, pomegranates are undoubtedly the "un-convenience" fruit. Few other foods demand as much of the eater. Not only do you have to break through that tough, leathery outer shell, but then you have to pry apart the pith to get to the delicious, though admittedly seedy, edible parts. Even after all that, you may well wind up with all of your clothes stained bright red. That's probably why you rarely see anyone walking down the street snacking on a pomegranate. There's an easy way to clean a pomegranate, though. Score the skin in quarters and open it up. Then put each quarter underwater and use your fingers to ream the seeds from the inside. The pith is light and will float to the top; the heavier seedy fruit will sink. Use them as garnishes for salads and desserts. For example, slice Fuyu persimmons and dress them with a little sugar and dash of orange liqueur, then scatter pomegranate seeds over the top.

Various vendors, $1.50 per pound

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Lipstick Peppers: The various members of the pepper family are usually considered part of the early fall harvest -- along with the last eggplants and tomatoes, they're typically gone by Halloween. Not so the lipstick peppers Jerry Rutiz grows in Arroyo Grande. These super-sweet peppers will be available through the new year, he says. Lipsticks are pimento-shaped peppers, which means that rather than the familiar boxy shape of the bell peppers you find in most grocery stores, these are shaped like hearts. They're sweeter and more richly flavored than most peppers and have thicker, meatier walls. After being roasted and peeled, they're good either just drizzled with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper or stuffed. Try filling them with a combination of fresh goat cheese and minced chives. Or do your own version of a classic Italian dish by stuffing them with a salad made from the very best canned tuna and olive oil.

Jerry Rutiz, $2.50 per pound

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