Marinated goats' cheese and asparagus salad with pomegranate
( SERVES 6 )
The sweetness of the pomegranate seeds contrasts with the fresh, chalky-tasting goats' cheese. The asparagus balances the two and makes this into a stylish entrée.
- Cut the cheese into even-sized pieces, and place in a shallow dish. Strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs and sprinkle over the top of the cheese. Lightly crush the peppercorns. Scatter over the cheese with the bay leaves, then pour in the oil. Leave in a cool place - it doesn't have to be refrigerated (it's better if it isn't) for at least six hours, turning at least once.
- Prepare the pomegranate by removing the crown, then cutting far enough down to expose the white. Score the skin in quarters from top to bottom, then place in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Lift the fruit from the water, pull the quarters apart and place the jewel-like seeds in a bowl.
- While the pomegranate soaks, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the asparagus for 3-4 minutes. Drain. Place the hot asparagus in a bowl and set aside. Pour the oil from the cheese into a bowl and whisk in the red wine vinegar, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Add the cheese to the asparagus and gently toss together. Divide between serving plates, scatter the pomegranate seeds across the top along with any juices that may have collected, then spoon over the dressing.