Week 50 – Pomegranate Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

One of the objectives of a long-term goal is to try things you’ve never tried before… to stretch your limits and master something new.  As I near the end of my ‘Year of Salad’ I am proud that I have met my own personal challenge.  Rather than continually serving the same basic green salad with store-bought balsamic vinaigrette, I’ve pushed myself to try new ingredients, new methods and new combinations.  I tackled the celery root, discovered the tangelo and now am taking time to experiment with the pomegranate.  I have always been intrigued by pomegranates.  Growing up, my only memory of the exotic fruit was of a girlfriend plucking these luscious, juicy, red seeds out of a tough shell.  As an adult, I have enjoyed pomegranates when served to me at a restaurant.  But, honestly, until last week, I wasn’t even sure how to get into the fruit.  (For those of you who are likewise intimidated, I discovered this site that describes the process for plucking out pomegranate seeds from its shell.)  Once plucked, the seeds are tiny bursts of sweet and slightly sour juice that are quite delightful.  And when placed against the green backdrop of peppery arugula, the seeds remind me of little glass jewels… or Christmas tree lights.  Bon Appetit

Pomegranate Salad with Warm Goat Cheese
A pretty, decadent salad worthy of any holiday table.

Serves 6
Dressing – Apple Cider Gastrique
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
½ cup apple cider vinegar
Baked Goat Cheese
11 ounces soft goat cheese, cut into (12) 1/2″ thick rounds
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon salt
5 ounces arugula, washed and spun dry
½ cup pomegranate seeds
½ cup walnut halves, roasted and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons red onion, minced

Make the gastrique : (A gastrique is a slightly syrupy reduction) Put sugar and water into a small saucepan. Dissolve sugar over medium heat until boiling; boil without stirring until amber, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until caramel bits dissolve. Cool.

Toast the goat cheese: Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix together bread crumbs with a pinch of salt. Brush the goat cheese rounds liberally with olive oil. Dredge the goat cheese in the breadcrumb mixture and place on a lightly greased cooking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, until warmed though and soft.

Prepare the salad: Place arugula, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and red onion in a large bowl. Pour cooled gastrique over salad until lightly moistened (you will have extra gastrique). Mix salad together and plate salad on individual salad plates. Place two goat cheese rounds on each salad and serve immediately.