Spring Salad with Warm Goat Cheese
Question for you before we get started, what is your favorite lettuce? Is it the standard head of lettuce? Romaine? Radicchio?
I am saying Spring has sprung. I say this because of my neighbor recently removing the gas from his snow blower and packing it away for the year. He is the indication that we should not be getting any more snow in Wisconsin this time of year. So with that in mind, I thought it was time to make the Spring salad. A Spring salad consists of really great greens such as those commonly found in mesclun; mustard greens, cos lettuce, mache, baby arugula, chervil, and endive. Not only does this blend pack some really great flavors from bitter, to peppery, to sweet, but it also has a great crunch. Did I note it also looks beautiful to present?
This Spring salad will get your guests talking, wanting you to plant your own mesclun, and having you prepare this simple salad any time of year.
Ingredients: (Serves four)
- Fresh mesclun blend from your local grocery; make sure it is fresh (plant your own as well)
- 8 oz. goat cheese, log
- 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese
- 1 baguette, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- pinch of pepper
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Begin by gently washing your lettuce. I typically submerge mine in a cold bowl of water, gently moving it around. Drain. If you have a salad spinner, use it, and spin until all of the excess water has been removed. Place in a dry bowl, and place in the refrigerator until you are about ready to plate and serve.
Next, use the garlic clove and rub it on the top and bottom of each baguette slice. Lightly butter the tops of each baguette slice as well. Place in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes, or until a light golden brown.
Next, add the vinaigrette ingredients into a small bowl, or locked container, and whisk or shake until you have emulsified the vinaigrette. Set aside.
Once the bread is lightly browned, remove from the oven, and set your broiler on high. Take your goat cheese, the log, and slice into four patties. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with some course pepper, and broil for a few minutes.
Ok, now we are ready. Take the mesclun out of the refrigerator, and to that add the crumbled goat cheese. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Begin by taking a spoon and drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad mix, tossing in between. Start with about two tablespoons and see how it is. Be careful not to overdress the salad. You really want the flavors of the lettuce to shine. Place a piece of the broiled cheese on top of a crouton, doing this four times. Place on top of the salad. Disperse a few more croutons on top of the salad. Allow your guests to grab a crouton topped with the goat cheese, and plate up the salad. The creaminess of the cheese, the flavors of the lettuce, and the tartness of the vinaigrette will sure to have your guests talking about this for some time to come.
Feel free to store the remaining vinaigrette in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for up to one week. Enjoy.