2008 Delicious Living Reader Recipe Contest Winner FIRST PLACE, Appetizer/Sides

Serves 6 / Beautiful and unusual, with a delectable dressing. The crispy goat cheese rounds make this salad something special. If you prefer, toss the greens with dressing before serving. Look for panko bread crumbs in the baking section of your natural grocery.

3 tablespoons chopped shallots

1/4 cup roughly chopped dried figs, stems removed
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup panko
1 Organic Valley large egg
1 8- or 10-ounce log goat cheese, well chilled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 6-ounce package prewashed mixed organic baby greens
1/3 cup chopped Blue Diamond Honey Roast Almonds
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer shallots, figs, orange zest and juice, syrup, and vinegar until figs are soft and mixture has reduced a bit, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small food processor or blender with 1/4 cup olive oil and salt. Puree until smooth. Return to saucepan and simmer on low while preparing salad.

2. Spread panko onto a small plate and beat egg in a small bowl. Cut goat cheese into 12 round slices. (Be sure cheese is really cold; use waxed dental floss to cut.) Dip goat cheese circles first in egg, then coat both sides with panko. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook both sides of goat cheese circles until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to drain.

3. To serve, place equal amounts baby greens onto six salad plates. Arrange two slices of goat cheese on top, then sprinkle with almonds. Drizzle desired amount of warmed fig dressing on each. Crack fresh black pepper over if desired.

The 2008 Recipe contest is sponsored by:
Blue Diamond Crown Prince Myenberg Imagine Kikkoman Organic Valley Mori-Nu Rachel's Dairy