Rocket. Also known as arugula. I love both names. Every time I say them my mouth wraps around the vowels with delight. I call this salad rocket salad because it sounds better than arugula salad. Rocket has a forcefulness to it. It sounds like something that will go off in your mouth, exploding with a million taste sensations.
A week ago, I was a stranger to this peppery lettuce. I’ve never been much of a greens girl–at least of the leafy variety. If I’m going to eat salad, it’s usually a Caesar. Or a spinach salad loaded with bits of bacon and egg and a good dollop of creamy dressing. However, one of my goals in writing this blog has been to expand my repertoire; lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to step outside the box and make things I ordinarily wouldn’t make, and consequently, eat things I ordinarily wouldn’t eat.
Now I wouldn’t classify myself as a picky eater. Like a lot of people, most of what I eat falls in the no-man’s-land between love it and hate it. I don’t dislike salads, they just don’t move me.
I’m slowly starting to change my mind, mostly because I’ve realized how great salads can be with a little bit of fruit. Adding a bit of pear and blue cheese to a bed of baby greens or some strawberries and pecans to some spinach leaves can make all the difference.
With a bit of experimenting, I devised this little salad, which makes a lovely lunch on a summer’s day. The caramelized apples add texture and sweetness, creating a sublime foil to the peppery bite of the arugula. A goat cheese studded with figs gives it even more character. It infuses the vinaigrette with a creaminess, minus a lot of calories, and is perfect spread on a French baguette sprinkled with a bit of olive oil.
Rocket Salad with Caramelized Apples and Fig Goat Cheese
for the salad
6-7 ounces (200g) arugula
4 ounces (120g) fig goat cheese
6 ounces English cucumber
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
finely chopped red onion
for the dressing
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
squeeze lemon juice
1) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and apples. Cook the apple slices until golden brown and set aside.
2) Cut the goat cheese into slices with a piece of dental floss; this will keep the disks from crumbling and falling apart as you cut. Slice the cucumber lengthwise on a mandoline to create thin, even strips.
3) To make the dressing, place all of the ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake vigorously. Toss the arugula with the dressing and arrange on 4 plates.
4) Arrange the cucumber slices and goat cheese on top of the arugula. Top with apple slices and a sprinkling of red onion. Serve immediately.