Classic Warm Goat Cheese Salad
- Goat Cheese Salad:
- 1 1/2 C. mixed fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, chervil, parsley, thyme, or mint
- 1 1/2 log-shaped fresh creamy goat cheeses, 16 to 18 oz. total weight
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 C. coarse dried breadcrumbs, such as Japanese panko
- 9 C. mixed baby salad greens, rinsed and thoroughly dried
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
- Mustard Vinaigrette:
- 1 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice
- 1 1/2 Tbs. Sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 1 1/2 C. extra-virgin olive oil
First, prepare the goat cheese: Spread the fresh herb mixture, along with the salt and pepper, in whatever combination you like, on a clean plate. Roll the goat cheese in the herbs to coat completely, reserving a Tbs. or two of herbs for a garnish. With a sharp knife, cut the goat cheese crosswise into 4 or 6 equal pieces. Spread the breadcrumbs on another plate and dredge the goat cheese pieces in the crumbs to coat them completely. Set aside. Put the baby greens in a salad bowl and set aside.
Prepare the Mustard Vinaigrette: Combine the mustard, herbs, vinegar, and a little salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisking continually with a small wire whisk, slowly drizzle in the 1 1/2 C. of olive oil to form a smooth, creamy emulsion. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings to taste with more salt and pepper and, if necessary, mustard and vinegar.
Add to the salad bowl enough of the vinaigrette to coat the leaves lightly. Toss thoroughly. Divide the leaves among 6 large salad plates or 4 dinner plates.
Heat a nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Add enough of olive oil to the pan to coat the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the cheese slices and saute them until the breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, about 1 minute per side, turning them gently with a spatula.
Top each salad with a slice of hot goat cheese. Garnish the cheese with the reserved herbs. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings as an appetizer, 4 servings as a main course
(Chef Wolfgang Puck’s TV series, “Wolfgang Puck’s Cooking Class,” airs Sundays on the Food Network. Also, his latest cookbook, “Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy,” is now available in bookstores. Write Wolfgang Puck in care of Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207.)
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