Over Christmas I was lucky enough to add a few great new cookbooks to my collection. One, "Ottolenghi, The Cookbook", was a Christmas present to myself picked up on a trip to Auckland from Cook the Books. The other two, Donna Hay's latest book "Seasons" and "Falling Cloudberries" by Tessa Kiros were acquired with some book vouchers I got for Christmas from my very generous and adoring Dad.
These are some wonderful books, and over the next few weeks I plan to share with you some of the things I've been making from these books. Today, I want to take you inside the Donna Hay book.
This book is the best of her quarterly, seasonal magazines that I am sure many of you love - everything is presented with her inimitable style and flair. I love her ability to transform just a few simple ingredients (so many of her recipes seem to have just half a dozen ingredients), without complicating them in any way, into something wonderful. The book features such gems as: Spring - "paper-bag snapper with preserved lemon" and "milk chocolate and coffee layer cake"; Summer - "yellow cherry tomato tarte tatin" and "white peach and fig granita"; Autumn - "pumpkin, spinach and goat's cheese pie" and "sticky orange and vanilla upside-down cake"; and Winter - "olive-crusted veal with feta mash" and "pear and espresso panna cotta. This book really makes me look forward to the changing seasons. There is plenty in this book for both vegetarians and meat eaters alike, and for anyone who likes simple, fantastic tasting food without the fuss.
Today's recipe - grilled fig, haloumi and pomegranate salad - is from the summer section of the book. It is the very first page I opened the book at when I found it in the book store, and I was immediately hooked. As you might expect, this salad took just a few minutes to put together, but it seemed like something utterly special and luxurious. This has much to do, no doubt, with the fact that here in New Zealand fresh figs are actually a bit of a luxury and are available for such a short time. This would certainly be a fabulous dish to serve up to someone you want to impress or spoil for a special occasion or, as I did, have something really special when you have to dine alone.
In the original recipe, Donna suggests frying the haloumi in some olive oil; however, I chose to grill it and was happy with the results. Since I had the grill out, I thought that grilling the figs might be nice, although the original recipe didn't call for doing anything to them other than cutting them in half. I did hedge my bets though - as I wasn't sure whether I would prefer grilled or plain figs I only grilled half of them. As it turned out, I loved the way that grilling them seemed to really intensify the sweetness and juiciness of the figs, so next time I would grill them all.
Grilled Fig, Haloumi & Pomegranate Salad Recipe
Click here for printable copy
Adapted from "Seasons" by Donna Hay
1/2 cup mint leaves
large handful rocket (arugula) leaves
4 green figs, halved
200g haloumi, sliced thinly
1/2 pomegranate, seeds and juice removed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Heat a ridged grill pan until hot. Cook the haloumi on both sides until nice char marks are starting to appear, and the cheese is just starting to soften. Cook the figs, cut-side down, until lightly charred and juices are beginning to run. Remove from the grill.
Allow to cool slightly, then cut or tear the haloumi into smaller pieces. Cut the fig halves in half again (so now your figs are in quarters).
Remove the seeds from the pomegranate (I like the "spanking" method - incredibly satisfying), and retain any juice that comes out with them.
Arrange the figs, haloumi, mint and rocket leaves in a bowl or platter. Sprinkle the pomegrante seeds over the top and drizzle over the juice.
Lightly combine the red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, and drizzle over the salad. Toss gently to combine.
I'm also submitting this post to Cookbook Sundays, hosted by the lovely Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen. She's worth a visit any day of the week, but why not head over there right now and see who else has dusted off their cookbooks - you'll almost certainly find some great recipes, and maybe you'll discover a new book you'd like to add to your collection.