Have you ever swooned over salade au chèvre chaud—warm goat cheese salad—in France, but not had the same kind of swoon-worthy effects when you’ve tried making it at home in the US?
The culprit is probably not the recipe, but the cheese. The trick is simply this: You have to use semi-ripened goat cheese.
First, a primer: French goat cheeses come in general styles (yes, there are more, but these are the three you’ll spot most often in the U.S.)
1. Fresh Goat Cheese = Fresh Chèvre Sold in tubes in the supermarket, fresh goat cheese is so young that it has not yet developed a rind.
Though it’s fine to use as a spread, the trouble is, it doesn’t melt that well, so it’s not the best choice for the warmed goat cheese salad.
2. Semi-Ripened Goat Cheese = Semi-Aged Goat Cheese
This cheese has been aged (ripened) long enough to develop a soft, generally edible rind. The flavors are more complex and the cheese melts into oozy lusciousness.
In short, this is the cheese you want for your goat cheese salad.
3. Tomme de Chevre
You don’t often find long-aged wheels of goat cheese in the US, but if you do snag a wedge. These full-flavored cheese are great on a cheese tray and for grating in cooking; however, don’t use them for the goat cheese salad: They simply don’t ooze the way the semi-ripened salads do.
And now, for my recipe:
Melty Goat Cheese Salad with Honey and Pine Nuts
Straight from the pages of from The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Spendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day, this warm goat cheese salad is similar to one I came across while dining at a simple sidewalk café in Cadillac, near Bordeaux. I love the way the honey contrasts with the bold goat cheese; the buttery pine nuts also add richness.
In this photo, I used Humbolt Fog “Cypress Grove” semi-ripened goat cheese; however, truth be told, I prefer one of the semi-ripened goat cheese from France mentioned in the ingredient list. They just seem tailor-made for salade au chèvre chaude!
Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
4 (1/2-inch thick) baguette slices
4 (1/2-inch thick) slices semi-ripened goat cheese, such as Crottin or
Chabichou (about 1/3 pound total; see Note, below)
5 cups mixed tender greens, preferably including arugula
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
4 teaspoons honey
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.
3. Toast both sides of the baguette slices in a toaster oven or under the broiler, then brush one side with a little olive oil. Place the baguette slices, oiled sides up, on a small baking sheet and top each with a round of goat cheese. Watching carefully, broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat until the goat cheese is softened and melted in places, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the broiler.
4. Add the greens to the salad bowl and toss to coat well with the dressing. Divide the greens among four salad plates. Top each with a cheese toast. Sprinkle the pine nuts over each salad. Drizzle the honey over the toasts. Serve.
Note: Other soft-ripened goat cheeses can be used; however, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If necessary, cut the goat cheese to fit on top of the baguette slice without any cheese hanging over.
Goat cheese photos courtesy of Goat Cheeses of France.
Goat Cheese Salad photo by Richard Swearinger.
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New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 210 euros for up to 3 people, and 70 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour