Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Birthday dinner party starter: goats cheese salad with fig and pomegranate

on June 2, 2011

Personally, as I’m now reaching decrepitude (I actually was thinking that wearing leopard print and loungewear was acceptable the other day!  Caught myself just in time, before I did anything stupid though!) birthdays have less meaning – yay, I managed to stay alive for another year!  I am a year closer to being dead…doesn’t seem like a lot to celebrate.  But anyone who knows me – I like any excuse for a party.  So, we had not one, but two weekends of birthday madness.

This weekend was the dinner party.  And that was civilised enough – it all went down hill after that point though.  Civilisation well and truly lost.  But lets not dwell on that…lets get back to the dinner party.  And it was delicious if I do say so myself (modesty is not my strong point!)!.  It turned out to be a very fruity and summery menu – not deliberate but once I’d put it together in my head it seemed to work well so I thought I’d go with it.

The menu was:

Starter: goats cheese salad with figs and pomegranate

Main: pork tenderloin stuffed with basil and pecorino with haselbeck potatoes and roasted asparagus

Dessert: summer berry and marscapone tart with cranberry jus

I did consider a fish course of sardine fish cakes but decided that there was probably enough food here, and there definitely was  – there was no way we could have eaten another bite! These are not dishes you’d make every day – either because they’re a bit fiddly, or because they use more expensive ingredients than you’d buy ordinarily.  But that’s what makes a dinner party special – making the extra effort and using unusual ingredients, and of course, good wine and enough of it, and good conversation.

I’m going to post each recipe separately so I don’t have 1 ridiculously long post…plus the suspense is half the fun!  This one is on the starter.  And it was a beautiful, stunning, delicious starter, well worth hubby hunting high and low for fresh ripe figs out of the fig season!   I had help on this, and I definitely needed it – it’s fiddly, but worth the effort.  I found the recipe in Stylist magazine – it’s a free magazine that they give out every week and I just ripped it out of the magazine.

Because I hadn’t made it before (not something they recommend for dinner parties!) and because it was a dinner party, I pretty much followed the recipe as it was.  There was any indication of numbers of servings or size of servings, so after some thought I decided that it was probably for 6 people and as my dinner party was for 4, I reduced all the ingredients, to about 2/3 of what it said.

Goat’s cheese salad with figs and pomegranate

Serves 4

  • 2 ripe, fresh pomegranates
  • 20g sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested plus a bit more juice
  • 150ml virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 fresh, ripe figs (not bruised though)
  • bag of ready wash small leafed salad (or use lambs lettuce)
  • 200g soft goats cheese
  • 60g walnuts
  1. Remove the pomegranate seeds from the pith (you can do this by making a slit around the circumfrence of the pomegranate and emersing in cold water in a large bowl.  Twist the pomegranate under water so the two halves separate, then still underwater remove the seeds.  As you do, the seeds will sink to the bottom and the pith will float on the top.  Remove the pith with a strainer then, seive the pomegranate seeds to remove the water – and voila – pith free pomegranate seeds.
  2. Put 2/3 of the pomegranate seeds in a saucepan with the sugar, lemon zest and juice and heat over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, stiring frequently.  As it heats, mash up the seeds to release the juices.  Seive the pomegranate seeds out of the juice and return it to the pan.  Reduce to syrupy consistency.  Then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Heat the grill on a medium setting.  Halve the figs and brush a little of the pomegranate syrup on the cut halves before placing under the grill to warm.
  4. In a small pan, lightly toast the walnuts.  Then crumble them into smaller bits.
  5. Slice (or crumble depending on the type of goats cheese you have) the goats cheese on a plate.  Add the walnuts on top of it.
  6. Put the salad in a separate bowl and add the remaining pomegranate seeds.
  7. Add salt & pepper, some more lemon juice and the olive oil to the pomegranate syrup to make the dressing – whisk well.  Pour about half the dressing over the cheese and walnuts and mix to combine.
  8. Add the other half to the salad leaves and toss well.
  9. Take out your serving plates.  Put a quarter of the cheese and walnut mix in the middle of each plate.  Add some of the salad leaves and pomegranate seeds and top with 2 fig halves.  Repeat with all your plates.
  10. Serve with a nice cold glass of bubbly and the delight of your guests 🙂

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