17 February 2011

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

The weather here the last few days has been absolutely dreamy!  Its been in the 60s the last couple of days, and is going to get up to the 70s before this weekend.  Weather like this makes me want to spend as little time as possible in my kitchen (or in my apartment, in general), so it spawns a lot of quick meals.  The weather getting warm also inspires me to eat a lot healthier, as it is a reminder that swim suit season is just around the corner.

This is one of my favorite quick, light dinners, with a glass of citrusy white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio) or light red wine (Pinot Noir or Malbec).  Surprisingly, it has a lot of flavor, which I think is very important in light cooking.  If it doesn't taste good, I'm not going to eat it, simple as that.  Light food has to keep my attention, or I just go back to the comfort food, that isn't so friendly to my waist line.  Not that its a bad thing every once in a while, but like I said, swim suit season is just around the corner!

The predominant flavors in this dish come from the tangy goat cheese and mustard vinaigrette.  It gets a little bit of sweetness from tomatoes and berries, and nuttiness from pecans (really, nuts give it nuttiness...).  I also really like the textural contrast of the warm goat cheese with cool, crisp greens.

This is also a super flexible dish.  You could use any type of goat cheese you want... plain, herbed, garlic, citrus, whatever you like!  I typically just buy the plain chevre from Trader Joe's.  Plus, its the perfect sized log so I can just slice off a piece and I don't have to form a disc.  You could also use whatever kind of greens you like.  I like this with arugula and spring mix, but romaine is what I had in my refrigerator today.  And you can put just about anything you want on the salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.  I've made this at a smaller serving size (1 or 2 goat cheese medallions) and served it along side a simple grilled steak or chicken breast.  In fact, grilling is the kind of cooking I really enjoy in weather like we have today... if only I had something grillable in my fridge...

The only really important thing to gain from this post is the process.

Warm Goat Cheese Salad
serves 1, as a main course
2 oz goat cheese
1/4 c bread crumbs
1/4 c finely chopped pecans
pinch old bay or cajun seasoning
1 egg white
1 T milk or cream
1 t grainy mustard
2 t red wine vinegar
1 t lemon juice
2 sprigs thyme
3-4 T olive oil
2 c salad greens
6-8 cherry tomatoes
3-4 strawberries
2 spring onions

Prepare your salad by chopping greens and veggies, and tossing together.  Put onto serving plate so its ready when the goat cheese is.

Whisk together mustard, thyme, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar.  Slowly add enough olive oil for dressing  to emulsify.  Keep in mind you might have extra dressing, depending on how much salad you made and how much dressing you like on your salad.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil or butter.  Combine pecans, bread crumbs, and old bay on a small plate and set aside.  In a shallow bowl, whisk together egg white and milk and set aside.  Slice and/or form your goat cheese into 3 medallions.  Season with salt and pepper.  

I like to line up my goat cheese, egg mixture, and break crumb mixture next to the stove to make this next part easier.  When skillet is warm, dip goat cheese into egg mixture to coat then into bread crumbs.  Shake off excess and put goat cheese into skillet.  Repeat with remaining medallions.  Cook for __ minutes on the first side, until coating is browned, then flip medallions.  Cook for __ minutes on the second side, just long enough to brown coating.

When cheese is done cooking, place medallions on top of prepared salad.  Drizzle the whole dish with the dressing.  Enjoy!

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