This Mediterranean-style salad is based on a subtle balance of peppery, rich and sweet notes. It melds the bitterness of radicchio with the peppery quality of arugula and the tender texture of baby spinach. Atop the mixed greens the sweetness and lushness of dried figs contrasts with the savory crunch of pistachios and the creaminess of feta, all of which are complemented by the dressing, with its prominent taste of white balsamic vinegar and pomegranate, with a lemon undertone.
Pomegranate seeds are not essential and not always easy to find at the market but they bring a very nice visual effect and a little crunch. Pomegranate molasses is actually pungent though syrupy if needed add a bit of honey to the dressing to adjust to your taste.
Ingredients (makes 4 generous portions):
8 oz of each: arugula, baby spinach, radicchio
1 cup of chopped dried figs
3 – 4 oz. of feta cheese: crumbled
1 – 2 oz. of pistachios : toasted
White balsamic fig infused vinegar
Lemon juice and a bit of zest
Dash of pomegranate molasses
Pepper and salt
Honey as desired
Recommended fresh herbs:
Opal basil or Genoa
A small amount of chopped mint leaves
Extra Garnish when in season:
Fresh pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spoon a couple tablespoons of dijon mustard in to a medium sized bowl. Using equal quantities of white balsamic infused vinegar, canola oil and olive oil — blend vinegar with the dijon, drip in oils in a steady stream while whisking continuously. Whisk in lemon juice by the tablespoon and pomegranate molasses by the teaspoon until desired taste. Add zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the greens in a large salad bowl. Add chopped herbs as desired.
Toast pistachios spread in a single layer on a baking sheet in the preheated oven for 6 – 8 minutes, or until fragrant. Immediately transfer from the baking sheet to a small bowl or plate. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Toss greens in the dressing. Add pistachios, feta and chopped figs and toss.
Jean-Mark Sens grew up in France and Belgium and has been living in the Southern United States of America for the past 25 years, except for a short stint in the deep East of Maine, which brought him back to New Orleans. He has taught culinary arts at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Eastern Maine Community College and for Mississippi University for Women on the Gulf Coast. He has published a collection of poetry, Appetite, with Red Hen Press, and is now working on Leaves of Greens: Mostly Leafy Salads, a book on the arts and technique of composing salads.