Padma Lakshmi Swears By This One Ingredient - Exclusive

Padma Lakshmi has carefully curated her stable of go-to ingredients over the years, focusing on one piece of produce in particular and using it in unconventional ways. Earlier this year, the culinary star appeared on "TODAY" and shared some special ways to turn kale into a hearty winter staple, emphasizing the use of pomegranate seeds for a tasty, crunchy salad. According to Eating Well, one of Lakshmi's favorite snacks is a piece of toast coated with peanut butter and pomegranate seeds. At this point, it should come as no surprise that the former supermodel and all-around authority on food has a soft spot for this colorful fruit.

When it comes to cooking, Lakshmi has found even more ways to use the seeds that go beyond simple sprinkles on various dishes — and has discovered one pomegranate product that has inspired a variety of meals in her household, as she told Mashed in an exclusive interview.

Padma's sweet twist on pomegranate

"A nice ingredient that I've been using a lot lately is pomegranate molasses," Lakshmi told Mashed, explaining that shoppers can find the item in Middle Eastern markets or on online sites. The "Top Chef" host particularly appreciates the sticky, sweetness of the molasses and recommends it paired with a particular cheese: "I even sometimes will drizzle it all over Boursin. It's beautiful. It's sticky and tiny, and then you have this crumbly creamy texture of the Boursin."

Thanks to its unique flavor profile, pomegranate molasses can pair well with savory or sweet items. Lakshmi has compared it to balsamic vinegar, and has also found ways to turn it into salad dressings.

Lakshmi said she discovered pomegranate molasses years ago. "I first fell in love with Persian cooking when I was young," she explained. "And then in doing 'Taste the Nation,' I had the opportunity to go and be with the community in Los Angeles, and I remembered how much I loved it."

While Lakshmi judged the Piglet cookbook prize, one of the finalists had also incorporated pomegranate molasses into a recipe, reminding Lakshmi how great the ingredient tasted. "She reminded me of how wonderful this ingredient is," she recalled. "I just love it."

Check out Lakshmi's collaboration with Maison Boursin and catch new episodes of "Top Chef" Thursdays on Bravo at 8:00 p.m. ET.