Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Simplicity ...

As much as I love cooking and eating ... there are times when I don't feel like doing either. The way the this past weekend shook out, I did plenty of one and little of the other. Friday night I engaged in some March Madness that was not of the b-ball variety ... I saw the Allman Brothers at The Beacon Theater. Its a long-standing March tradition on the Upper West Side and this year's run was quite something indeed. Kid Rock was the special guest on Friday night and, frankly, he did rock. The whole show did!

Prior to the show, the husband and I dined at 'Cesca, and the meal was every bit as spectacular as the concert. Saturday night we met the sister in law and our friend M. at one of my all time favorite restaurants - El Faro - where we dined happily on a number of Spanish classics, paella included. El Faro has been serving up the best paella in the city since 1927 and, honestly, this place is so good, so unique, it deserves a review of its own. I was dining sans camera Saturday night, so the review will have to wait - but it will happen. Stay tuned.

Suffice it to say, by Sunday night I'd had my fill of food and wanted nothing more than a simple salad for dinner. Of course by simple, you know I mean - simply divine. I drew inspiration from two sources. The first: POM Wonderful. Last week, Diana - aka The POM Blogger - got in touch with me and offered a sample of their luscious POM Wonderful pomegranate juice. Needless to say, I accepted the offer with pleasure. I'm already a huge fan of POM and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to explore it more fully as an ingredient. Diana sent me a case of POM Wonderful juice and I promptly put it to work in creating a scrumptious dressing for my salad.

Divalicious POM Wonderful Vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. minced shallot
  • 1/2 tsp. prepared Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt and a generous grating of fresh black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • scant 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • some mixed salad greens
  • some fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 2 or 3 oz. of good quality Gruyere cheese, sliced
  • some roasted pumpkin seeds
In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients - POM juice through dill - and whisk to incorporate. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, to taste, to create an emulsification. Whisk vigorously until well combined and the dressing is formed. Taste for seasoning, adding a bit more salt and pepper or a splash of vinegar if needed.

Lightly dress your salad greens with the finished vinaigrette, to taste, and sprinkle the salad with some pomegranate seeds. (I also added some red bell pepper and celery to the mix.)

Place the sliced Gruyere on a large, microwave-safe plate and heat in the microwave on high for approximately 10 to 20 seconds, or until the cheese melts and just begins to bubble. Watch it carefully and do not over cook. Remove from oven, sprinkle the cheese with some roasted pumpkin seeds and a few pomegranate arils (seeds). Place the dressed salad on the plate, garnish with a slice of hearty, whole-grain bread and enjoy!

As written, this salad will serve one, but you will have plenty of yummy dressing left to enjoy. I'm not a fan of oily dressing, so the ratio here is light on the EVOO. Feel free to increase if that's your pleasure.

I wish I could take credit for the marvelous addition of melted cheese to the plate. That idea came straight from The Wine and Food Lover's Diet Cookbook - and frankly, its brilliant! I mean, who doesn't love melted cheese?! The zippy POM vinaigrette was the perfect foil for the warm, creamy cheese and the pumpkin seeds really upped the flavor ante as well. I rounded out the meal with a slice of nutty brown bread - another version of Irish soda bread - and I'll tell you all about it ... tomorrow. Stay tuned.

I'm thoroughly delighted with my first foray into cooking with POM and looking forward to further explorations. This salad was just what the doctor ordered - and it only goes to show that simple and elegant sometimes mean the same thing.

Bon appetit!


Tracy said...

Yum! This vinaigrette sounds wonderful (pun intended). Lucky you, having such awesome samples sent to you to play with!

words words words said...

I would just like to say that it amuses me that you and Mr. Diva may be the only people who have ever dined at 'Cesca before seeing Kid Rock. :)

The Diva on a Diet said...

Tracy - nice pun! :) I'm really looking forward to exploring POM more fully in cooking. Normally I just drink the stuff!

WWW - LOL ... you may be right about that!

stephchows said...

Gotta love pom!! They not only produce a serious quality product, they are also outstanding people! GO POM GO!

Cookie Brochette said...

The dressing sounds delish, Diva. And your presentation is beautiful. Really!

Tangled Noodle said...

I love your dressing, particularly the Dijon and shallots. And the melted Gruyere with pomegranate seeds - wonderful!

pixelgal said...

Can't wait to try this one, Diva dear. The dressing looks really good and just the thing for a light lunch. Thanks, kiddo! I tried Pomagranate juice once and didn't care for it. Musta had the wrong brand. I'll try again!

Anonymous said...

The POM Wonderful vinaigrette sounds great - I still have a few samples left and that would be a perfect salad dressing (my daughter loves pomegranates so that'll be a guarantee she'll eat the salad).

The Diva on a Diet said...

Steph - I do love POM! I loved them before, but love them even more now. :)

Aw, thanks, Cookie!

Tangled Noodle - I can't seem to make any vinaigrette without shallots and Dijon ... they are a must.

pixelgal - try the POM Wonderful ... it really is wonderful. Nice when mixed as a drink with plain seltzer too.

5 star foodie - happy to help spread the salad love. I hope you and your daughter enjoy it! If she likes a sweet dressing, you may want to add some sugar or honey. I opted to go without because, for me, the POM is sweet enough on its own.

aoife mc said...

Yum! I love pommies! I've been eating loads of rich food recently, a delicious salad would go down very well indeed.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Aoife - me too ... I should make another salad for dinner ... but I just read your entry and now I want fettuccine!