Warm Goat Cheese Salad
What could possibly be better than a salad with goat cheese? A salad with warm goat cheese melted on bread. (Of course.)
After years of being inspired mainly by Asia in the kitchen, last summer I was inspired– much more than I’d expected to be– by the food in France. I will choose a hole-in-the-wall lunch counter serving spicy Korean soup or Vietnamese noodles over a fancy French restaurant any day, but that said, I love cheese and bread. (And cheese on bread.)
When I visited Paris, I ordered (more crêpes than I could count and) several warm goat cheese salads. Perhaps this was because chèvre and pain are among the few French words that I could recognize on the menus… Or maybe I just kept coming back to salads because it was summer and quite hot out, and the salads kept arriving topped with crispy toast and soft warm cheese, whether I liked it or not. (I liked it.)
In any case, since that lovely little vacation, I have been making the occasional warm goat cheese salad at home. My favorite version is with sliced up fresh pears on the greens, which I then sometimes sprinkle with sliced almonds. Pictured, though, is a salad with chopped walnuts and some cherry tomatoes from a local farm stand here in town.
It’s nice to keep it simple when you’re also finishing off the salad with some toasted bread and rich herbed goat cheese. Salad greens, tomatoes or pears, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Simple. Unlike this slightly over the top warm goat cheese salad that I ate in France, that came covered in sautéed potatoes and a creamy dressing:
It still tasted good, though.
A final note about the bread in my photos: I wasn’t the only person inspired by all there was to eat in France. Ever since our trip, my girlfriend has been baking baguettes from scratch every weekend! (I am the luckiest.*) This week she branched out and tried making some rosemary focaccia. Baguettes had been tricky to master, but the focaccia was so good on her first try, it made her want to drop out of work/school and go run away to work in a bakery. It made me want to spend an entire week eating warm goat cheese salads.
*Also, I bought her a baguette baking pan for Christmas.
Warm Goat Cheese Salad
~ several handfuls of salad greens (I use both spinach and arugula)
~ small handful of cherry tomatoes or a sliced tomato or pear
~ 1-2 pieces of bread per person
~ goat cheese, plain or herbed, about 1 oz. per person
~ chopped walnuts or almonds
~ balsamic vinaigrette (ratio of 1:3 balsamic vinegar to olive oil, whisked together with a dab of Dijon mustard), or other salad dressing
How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven (or a toaster oven!) to 350 degrees. Spread goat cheese thickly onto the slices of bread, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the bread starts to brown around the edges, and the goat cheese is warmed through. (If you’re feeling extra patient, you can give it another minute on the normal toaster or broiler setting to brown the top of the cheese a bit.)
2. Meanwhile, assemble your salad on a plate. Add sliced tomatoes or pear and optionally nuts.
3. When the bread is done toasting, lightly dress the salad with vinaigrette. Then place the toasted bread and cheese on top of the salad, and serve immediately, with a knife and fork.