Friday, April 12, 2013

Arugula Salad With Dates, Cheese & Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette

Arugula Salad With Dates, Cheese & Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette Recipe

One of my favorite things to do during my weekly trek to the farmer's market is to pick up one item that is not on my shopping list - an impulse purchase - something I tasted that was just that good. And this week's impulse purchase is a bag of dates. I don't usually eat dates so I have my parents to thank for this. They each 
sampled one, convinced me to do the same and before I could blink my mother was stuffing a bag of the "honey" variety into my tote. {After she paid, of course}. I admit I was hooked the minute I tried one. These dates deliver a whole new experience - nothing like the dates I pick up at my grocery store each Christmas in order to prepare Sticky Toffee Pudding. These honey dates are incredibly moist and tender with the softest of skin and a creamy, sweet flavor that truly lives up to its name. Chalk all of this up, I suppose, to ultimate freshness and a unique variety.  

And now the fun part comes into play: finding several  healthy recipes that highlight {and don't overwhelm} my prized bag of goodies.  First on the bill is this fresh, flavorful arugula salad recipe. Sweet dates and a sweet pomegranate molasses vinaigrette are balanced with salty, crunchy almonds, nutty arugula, creamy cheese and aromatic basil and dill. This is one of those salad recipes that allows each ingredient to be seen and tasted - nothing gets lost in the shuffle. If you don't have access to dates from a farmer's market, a fresh package of Medjool dates from your local grocer will still produce an ideal salad.

Arugula Salad With Dates, Cheese & Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette 

1 T + 1/2 T Marcona almonds, toasted and cut in halves
6 large dates, halved, pitted and cut 8 slivers {per date}
2 c + 1/2 c arugula
4 to 5 oz cheese {a Turkish or French sheep's cheese in brine, buffalo mozzarella, or fresh mozzarella}
a few leaves of dill
3/4 c mixed basil leaves and red chard
3 T olive oil
1 t + 1/2 t pomegranate molasses
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Divide the arugula among 4 plates. Layer on top: the dates, cheese, dill, basil, and chard.

In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil,  pomegranate molasses and some salt and pepper. Drizzle over each salad. Top with almonds.
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Source: Adapted from Plenty, Ottolenghi

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