Pomegranate Fruit Salad
3/4 cup sugar
3 star anise
1/2 of plump vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
8 dried apricots, cut in half
4 dried figs, quartered
4 2-inch long pieces lemon zest (peeled with a vegetable peeler) from a Meyer lemon if you can find one
Juice of the zest lemon
3 firm Bosc pears
1 firm tart apple (honey crisp are great)
Seeds from half a pomegranate
1. Fill a medium saucepan with 4 cups water. Add the sugar, star anise, vanilla bean and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, and cook until all the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool for just a few minutes (it should still be hot) and then stir in the dried figs and apricots. Let it cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, peel and core pears and apple. Slice thinly lengthwise and place in a large bowl, and toss with the lemon juice.
3. Once the syrup with dried fruit has cooled, pour it over the apples and pears. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill it overnight in the refrigerator.
4. The next morning, using a slotted spoon, ladle the fruit into a serving bowl, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve. Remove the vanilla beans (you can rinse and save what is left of them for another use) and lemon peels if you wish, or leave them in for decoration.