A Salad That's Extraordinary : One-Dish Meal Has Cheesecake and Fruit on a Raft of Lettuce

Fruit and savory cheesecake top lettuce rafts in this out-of-the-ordinary salad. The cheesecake is a blend of cream cheese and tangy goat cheese, seasoned with thyme, tarragon and lemon. It may be prepared ahead and reheated.

To set the stage for this one-dish meal, place a raft of lettuce on each plate. Arrange the fruit and toasted pecans on top, then add wedges of hot savory cheesecake. For the final touch, sprinkle sweet vinaigrette dressing over all.

SAVORY CHEESE SALAD RAFT

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/4 pound goat cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

2 tablespoons flour

3 eggs, separated

1/3 cup milk

1 head iceberg lettuce

1 pound seedless grapes

1 (17-ounce) can whole Kadota figs or apricots

1/2 cup toasted pecan or walnut halves

Sweet Vinaigrette

Beat cream and goat cheeses with lemon peel, thyme and tarragon until well blended. Beat in flour, egg yolks and milk. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into cheese mixture. Pour into generously greased and floured 8-inch round layer cake pan and bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes or until center is set.

Slice iceberg lettuce into 4 (1-inch) rafts. Place on individual plates and top with grape clusters, figs and pecans. Cut hot savory cheese into wedges, slip spatula under carefully and add to rafts. Drizzle with Sweet Vinaigrette. Makes 4 servings. Note: Savory cheese may be prepared ahead and reheated at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot in center.

Sweet Vinaigrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup oil

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Combine vinegar, oil, sugar, orange juice and poppy seeds in tightly closed container. Shake well to blend. Makes about 1 cup.

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