The Middle Ages is one of my favorite periods in history. I still remember that my high school Italian teacher used to tell us that was absolutely wrong to define dark that era, because it was in that very period that the culture was reborn, in abbeys, castles, and the first markets where trading resumed slowly.
Now you would consider me a crazy person, but suspend for a moment any judgments, especially the historical ones… when I saw the pictures and the colours of this pomegranate and smoked duck salad – a magret de canard fumé that comes straight from Paris, a gift from my parents – I thought: this looks like a medieval dish! There is meat and fruit (it is a medieval habit to mix them into the same dish), there is a sense of long nights in dark castles in front of a fireplace, the wind blowing outside, the Lady of the manor housing a pilgrim, seasons going by…
- smoked duck breast, 100 g
- Tuscan (unsalted) bread, 5 slices
- celery, 5 stalks (the inner ones, the most tender)
- pomegranate, seeds of 1/2 fruit
- shelled walnuts, 2 tablespoons
- shelled pine nuts, 1 tablespoon
- extra virgin olive oil
- honey balsamic vinegar
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Maldon salt or fleur de sel
Cut the bread slices into cubes and brown them in a frying pan with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes, until crisp and golden. Toast coarsely chopped shelled walnuts and pine nuts in another pan. Wash the celery and cut it into small pieces.
Mix in a large bowl browned bread, toasted pine nuts and walnuts, celery, pomegranate seeds and smoked duck breast, cut into strips. Season a dash of olive oil, crisp Maldon salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a few drops of honey balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately to appreciate the crispness of all ingredients.
Tasting test. Served as a starter, it is a fun and tasty appetizer. The crunch is the dominant feature, provided by crusty bread and toasted nuts. The smoked duck gives instead softness, depth and character to the dish. The pomegranate has the aim to wake up the flavors, making the salad vibrant with a rather sharp tone and coloured with a bright ruby-red.