Pretty and fruity-tart, this salad is equally delicious as a first course or after a meal in lieu of a cheese course. You can use raw figs, but broiling them intensifies their flavor and adds an interesting smoky note. As a variation, try hazelnut or walnut oil in the dressing.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 medium-size pomegranate
½ teaspoon honey
4½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4½ teaspoons best-quality red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
¼ cup fragrant extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
10 purple figs, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
8 to 10 cups loosely packed mesclun, rinsed and dried
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
2 to 3 ounces Cabrales or other blue cheese, crumbled
1. Cut the pomegranate into quarters. Remove the seeds from 3 pomegranate quarters and place them in a bowl, picking out and discarding any pieces of membrane. Working over a sieve, press the juice from the remaining pomegranate quarter into a second bowl. Whisk in the honey, lemon juice, vinegar, and shallots, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season the dressing generously with salt and pepper to taste and let stand while you prepare the figs.
2. Preheat the broiler.
3. Arrange the fig quarters, cut side up, on a broiler pan. Broil the figs until they look a little caramelized and lightly charred, about 5 minutes.
4. Place the broiled figs, pomegranate seeds, mesclun, and pine nuts in a bowl and gently toss to mix. Add enough dressing to lightly coat the mesclun and season the salad with salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss in the cheese and serve at once.