Warm Herbed Chevre Salad
This salad always reminds me of the summer that I spent in southern France. I spent every day there, walking for hours in the sweltering heat and then I’d return to my hotel ( which, like most mid-priced hotels in Europe had no air conditioning) and so the only things I felt like eating for lunch were large salads. For the entire month that I spent there, I must just have alternated between this warm goat cheese salad and the Nicoise salad! Even years later, when I taste this salad, it transports me back to France right away – the tangy melted goat cheese compliments the sweet and sour dressing really well. I had it for dinner today and the fresh herbs from my newly planted herb garden really made the salad come alive with vibrant flavors. It is a great summer salad that can be a whole meal by itself or a starter course for a fancy dinner party.
1. One log of goat cheese (Chevre)
2. A bowl of fresh crisp micro-greens (baby arugula adds a good measure of peppery-ness to it)
3. 10-12 multi-colored cherry tomatoes
4. 2-3 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil
5. 2 tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar
6. 1 tablespoon of honey
7. ¼ cup of bread crumbs
8. One egg white+ two tablespoons of water
9. A bunch of fresh herbs – just a few sprigs of each will do) (I used fresh chives, oregano, rosemary and basil)
10. ½ teaspoon of salt
11. ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper (I like a blend of black, white and pink peppercorns)
1. First make the salad dressing by whisking in 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil + balsamic Vinegar + the honey and salt. When these are emulsified set the dressing aside.
2. Wash the baby greens (dry them completely in a salad spinner) and the tomatoes and halve the tomatoes and set them aside in a mixing bowl.
3. Wash the herbs and finely chop them with a sharp knife.
4. Using a knife, cut the goat cheese (Chevre) log into discs. If the cheese does not cut cleanly use some dental floss to cut through the cheese.
5. Whisk the egg white and the water to make an egg-wash liquid and keep it in a bowl to dip the cheese in.
6. Also put the bread crumbs in a small bowl and place next to the bowl with egg wash.
7. Place the discs of goat cheese in the chopped up herbs and let the herbs stick to the cheese on both sides and place all the discs in a plate and keep them in the freezer for 5 minutes.
8. While the cheese discs are getting chilled, heat a non-stick pan and pour a little bit of olive oil at the bottom to cover the surface of the pan.
9. Take the cheese discs out of the freezer and place each of the discs first in the egg wash and then in the bread crumbs so that the entire surface on the cheese discs is covered with bread crumbs.
10. Place the bread crumb covered cheese discs in the hot pan and cook each side till the crumbs are browned and form a crust on top of the cheese (usually takes about 2-3 minutes on each side.
11. While the goat cheese discs are in the pan and getting browned, mix whatever chopped up herbs are left on the chopping board with the salad greens and dress the salad and tomatoes with the dressing that you had prepared earlier and toss the salad thoroughly and sprinkle some freshly grated pepper on top.
12. Serve the salad with two of the browned cheese discs on each plate of salad and some crunchy warm bread on the side. The salad should be served immediately otherwise the heat from the warm cheese will wilt the salad greens.