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When it comes to food pairings, there are plenty of guidelines to follow—from both the culinary perspective and from the nutritional side. But to help simplify things when you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider this tip: “What grows together, goes together,” nutritionist Maggie Moon, M.S., R.D., shared at a recent virtual event for POM Wonderful.
When you think about that, it really “makes so much sense that culinary traditions would develop around common ingredients that do well in a given geographical region,” Moon later told mbg, “but there are nutritional benefits as well.”
The Mediterranean trifecta that’s perfect for topping any dish.
While there are many examples of these types of groupings around global kitchens and recipe books, we’re focused on the one that inspired her statement in the first place: the Mediterranean combo of pomegranates, mandarins, and pistachios.
“I love that they offer contrasting and complementary flavor notes and textures,” she shares, “from buttery and nutty to sweet and bright, with textures from crunchy to juicy.”
That variation in texture and flavor is welcome on simple dishes like salads but can also be divine atop yogurt bowls, roasted vegetables, or even desserts. But it goes beyond just the flavor and texture benefits—there’s something to be said for how this group works nutritionally.
“They also ‘go together’ because they offer variety,” says Moon. “It’s important to include a variety of plant foods throughout the day, as different foods offer different nutrients, and a balanced, varied diet helps the body get what it needs.” In this group, you have pistachios, a good source of complete protein; pomegranates, which offer antioxidants; and mandarins, which provide a good portion of your daily vitamin C.
How we’re enjoying this group of nutrient-packed ingredients.
In the case of these ingredients, they grow together in the Mediterranean—but also now in California, in areas where there’s a similar climate. Pomegranates and pistachios, in particular, have origins in the Middle East, even before they were brought to the Mediterranean. Look to the cuisines of any of those regions, and the other ingredients that crop up often, for inspiration.
As for me? I’ll be topping my salads with pomegranate seeds, mandarin supremes, and shelled pistachios all summer—with a drizzle of EVOO and balsamic, too.