This simple appetizer is a study in balance: the smoky meatiness of the duck, the tartness of the cherries, the sharpness of the cheese, and the peppery hotness of the arugula all come together with a super simple vinaigrette. If your arugula is not too hot to eat alone, I would suggest reducing the amount of sugar in the vinaigrette; this arugula was really, really hot. (yum!) Smoked duck breast is available at larger specialty food markets or online (I bought this one at Whole Foods for $8). I don't care for cold duck fat, so even though I pictured the salad with the fat on, I removed it before it eating. You can use it for another purpose.
Arugula Salad with Smoked Duck Breast, Cherries, and Hazelnuts - serves 2
2 large handfuls Arugula, rinsed and well dried, roughly chopped or torn
2 tbsp Hazelnut oil
2 tbsp Champagne Vinegar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup dried cherries
1-2 tbsp sugar
1 smoked duck breast, cold, thinly sliced
1/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
2 ounces very sharp, good aged cheddar (I used something called Robusto, a hard aged cheddar, which I also bought from Whole Foods - anything bleu is a natural companion as well)
good sea salt
Place the dried arugula in a bowl and set aside. Place the hazelnut oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and cherries in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir with a whisk until warm (not boiling - 3 minutes or so). Pour over the arugula, sprinkle with a little salt, and toss to coat. Place the arugula on a plate and top with the duck slices. With a vegetable peeler, peel thin slices of the cheddar over the salad. Top with the chopped hazelnuts and a little extra dressing, adding any cherries to the plate that did not cling to the greens. Sprinkle everything with a little sea salt.