Winter Fruit Salad-Valentine's Day

winter fruit salad 

3/4 c. sugar
3 star anise
1/2 fresh vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
8 dried  apricots, halved
4 dried figs, quartered
4 2-inch long pieces lemon zest (peeled with a vegetable peeler)
Juice from the same lemon
3 Bosc pears
1 Granny Smith apple
Seeds from half a pomegranate
Fill a medium saucepan with 4 c. 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 5 minutes and then stir in the figs and apricots. Let it cool completely.
Meanwhile, core the pears and apple (and peel if you like). Slice thinly lengthwise, place in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice.
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.
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.
Note: Syrup can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a day or two. Hot syrup can be poured over the dried fruit and kept in the fridge for a day or so. Prepared salad keeps in the fridge for a day or two, but is best fresh.