Goat Cheese Salads…
…remind me of Provence in the spring and summer. So, today, when I went shopping and my favorite butcher Mike, told me his wife loved them, I though that this was a great excuse to start thinking about spring in Provence! This is a traditional Provencal dish (which can be found all over Paris as well) and is made in many ways. Below are several recipes and our favorite variations of Chevre chaud (literally translated, warm goat cheese). And, of course, photos of some of the ones we enjoyed last season.
Greens: laitue (real lettuce in france is referred to as laitue. The closest we have to that in texture is hydroponic bibb lettuce or some varieties of organic baby lettuces). If you are making a salad of the sweet variety below, then you could use baby arugula or maybe other wild greens to add a bitter component to balance the sweet. Otherwise, use the most delicate lettuce available.
Wash and dry greens. Toss in vinaigrette. Add the various components below that you’ve chosen, and enjoy.
2-3 parts olive oil (extra virgin)
1 part white wine vinegar
Dijon style mustard to taste (about a teaspoon for every 2/3 cup dressing)
sea salt to taste
optional: finely chopped shallots
Note: Salads can be made savory or sweet. If you prefer sweet, think of adding fresh figs or cranberry or diced fresh pear — and then maybe toasted walnuts or toasted pecans (with the cranberry or pear). Drizzle with honey. If you prefer savory, you can add tomato, olives, tapenade…
Chèvre: The goat cheese can be served cold, crumbled in the salad or warm on a crouton or wrapped in phyllo dough or breaded in some way.
The “main” ingrediant: Of course the most important thing in a Chevre chaud is the chevre –or the cheese. You can make this salad using a variety of great goat cheeses. Fresh goat cheese, creamy goat cheeses with rinds, and crottins. Just make sure you don’t get a dried goat cheese. It won’t melt properly.
You can use a Crottin de Chavignol for your salad, or any goat cheese with a rind. This is an easy and tasty way to make the dish. As you heat the goat cheese (usually you do this on a crouton), the rind keeps the melted cheese from losing it’s shape. The cheese is then placed on a green salad. Sometime tomatoes are added. sometimes tapenade. And sometimes figs or other fruits are used instead -as a counterpoint to the strong flavor of the cheese.
Another way to make this salad is to use fresh goat cheese logs. You take a 1/2 to 1 inch slice of the goat cheese, and place on an already toasted crouton. You heat the goat cheese and put on the salad.
And enjoy! Bon appetit, to you, and hope to see you a bientot in France this season.