I first made this as an alternative to a Christmas cheese board but, quite frankly, it works all year round as a visually spectacular addition to any table. It does require a degree of patience to stud the cheese ball with pomegranate seeds, but it is well worth the effort. This can be made the day before and kept refrigerated until ready to serve. You can also make it as big as you like by doubling or tripling the recipe quantities. Serve it with crispbreads, crackers, toast, and even Belgian endive leaves.
Serves 4 to 6.
- 3/4 lb soft goat cheese (chèvre with the rind cut off also works)
- 2 heaped teaspoons sumac
- 1/3 cup snipped chives
- finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
- 1 to 2 teaspoons pul biber chile flakes
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/3 cup pistachio nut slivers or 1/2 cup coarsely chopped whole pistachio nuts
- freshly ground black pepper
- Mix the cheese, sumac, chives, orange zest, pul biber, and a generous seasoning of pepper in a mixing bowl until evenly combined. Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface. Using a spatula, scrape the cheese mixture out of the bowl and into the center of the plastic wrap. Gather the 4 corners of the plastic wrap together, expel any air, and twist the plastic wrap just above the top of the ball to secure the cheese mixture. Use your hands to form the mixture inside the plastic wrap into a ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or, preferably, freeze for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the ball from the refrigerator or freezer and peel back the plastic wrap. Place it on a serving plate. Stud the surface of the ball all over with the pomegranate seeds. Scatter the pistachios on top and around the base, studding the ball with a few pieces wherever you can. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Cover courtesy of Octopus Publishing
Excerpted with permission from Bazaar: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes by Sabrina Ghayour, published by Octopus Publishing, 2019.