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The Main Ingredients III: Holiday Brunch (Challenger's Meal)

12/12/2013 04:52 EST | Updated 03/03/2014 04:59 EST

As I started out on my third tour of duty for Health Canada's Cooking Challenge it struck me that the challenge has helped me venture into areas of the supermarket I don't usually visit. This time it was the more "exotic" fruit section I familiarized myself with, as I headed off in search of a pomegranate to prepare an arugula, pear, goat cheese and pomegranate salad to serve with scrambled eggs on Saturday morning.

To be honest, it sounded a bit sophisticated for the kids, aged six and eight, who are not anywhere near to being considered 'foodies'. I'm pretty sure they have had lettuce before -- on a hamburger -- but (and does this make me a bad mother?) other than that, we don't serve a lot of lettuce in our house to the kids. Of course we have vegetables with meals, but lettuce has rarely, if ever, been introduced.

Since Saturday mornings are normally chaotic, I picked the only Saturday where their hockey games/birthday parties/soccer practices and play-dates started a bit later in the day. Just typing that makes me think my family is overscheduled, no wonder I haven't had time to feed them lettuce (kidding!).

Arugula, Pear, Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Salad

Main Ingredients Used:

The Main Ingredients III: Challenger Meal 1

  • Pears
  • Pomegranate
  • Goat cheese
  • Beef

Ingredients list:

  • 2 pears
  • 1 pomegranate (we could have used more seeds as I loved the addition, so 2 pomegranates depending on the size of the salad and your preference for the fruit)
  • 1 bunch of freshly washed arugula
  • Goat cheese (amount as desired)
  • Grilled steak, chicken (amount as desired)

Preparation: Wash and peel the pear, then cut into small pieces, cut and soak the pomegranate than break off its outer layer and spoon up the seeds.

Wash arugula, dry, add the fruit, a liberal amount of oat cheese and top with the sirloin (or other cooked meat as preferred)

We served it with scrambled eggs for brunch, but would also make a great meal on its own or as a side dish.

I prepared all this in full view of the kids. After the minor fiasco with our last challenge with the bok choy I thought a better way to get them to try new things was to involve them in the preparation.

First I had the kids peel the pear, and thankfully I had two peelers, because despite their ages, sharing between siblings still seems to be a skill they failed to learn in preschool. After a shaky start, (that technically I guess you could say required a Band Aid), they were off competing for the fastest peeler in town. (I mean that in the most innocent of ways!)

Once the pears were peeled, we pondered the pomegranate. I love pomegranate juice, chock full of powerful health benefits including antioxidants, but I had never actually peeled one myself. There are times when YouTube comes in handy, and this was one of them. A quick tutorial on how to score, soak and spoon out the seeds, and we were rolling. The kids loved the texture of the seeds, but not so much their rather tart taste. I may have picked a slightly under ripe pomegranate which didn't help. But mixed in a salad, I was sure all those combined tastes would be spectacular.

With the pears and pomegranate seeds set aside, we took out the arugula, and I provided a quick, educational and fascinating (in my opinion), explanation of the various kinds of lettuce. Just when the kids' eyes started to glaze over, I introduced them to the salad spinner (yes, I own one and no, I am not embarrassed) and suddenly lettuce was looking up into their eyes.

After a vigorous, some might say, overly aggressive, turn at washing the arugula in the salad spinner, the kids placed it in a bowl and I pulled out the package of goat cheese.

Full disclosure, I love goat cheese. To the point of eating it with just the tip of a spoon on occasion, so for me, you can never have enough of it. But knowing this was the first time my eldest (much less adventurous than the rest of the family, from a palate perspective) would be trying it at our brunch, I went lighter than I normally would, in how much I put into the bowl.

I had the kids combine all the ingredients. I grilled some pieces of sirloin steak to add to the adult portions, as the kids balk at eating steak in the morning, then whipped up some simple scrambled eggs, and we sat down to a feast.

The Verdict: The reviews were mixed (as usual.) The adults loved the salad, and having that burst of colour and flavour from the pomegranate was something I would definitely do again to add a kick to tired old lettuce recipes.

The arugula, truthfully, wasn't a hit with the kids. We'll need to try that again (and again, and again...), but the goat cheese was a tentative success with my six year-old and he managed to eat every pear he could hunt down in his dish.

Baby steps - but as a fledgling cook and a mother trying to introduce more options into my families' diet, I'll take any sign of success!

Enjoy!