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Goat Cheese Salad…Need I Say More?

September 20, 2010

Sometimes a recipe defies a need for a catchy blog post title.  This marvelous dish comes to us from one of the MHK’s most admired chefs, Alice Waters.  Waters is considered to be one of the pioneers of “California cuisine,” and is a tremendous promoter of organic foods and the “slow food” movement.  She runs one of the most famous restaurants in Northern California, Chez Panisse in Berkeley.  This recipe is on Chez Panisse’s menu – it’s perfect in its simplicity, and tastes wonderful.  The size of the goat cheese it calls for might be hard to find at the regular supermarket – I could not find a goat cheese log larger than 1 inch in diameter, so I just made twice as many of the rounds.  Make sure you note that the cheese needs to marinate for 8 hours – this will help the cheese melt when you bake it.  The gooey cheese and crispy breading meld delightfully with the vinaigrette and the soft greens, followed by that crunch of the garlic toast.  For the garlic toast slices, which are basically croutons, you can make your own by broiling baguette slices with butter and garlic, or just buy some of those gourmet croutons at the store.  Enjoy!

Alice Waters’ Baked Goat Cheese with Salad Greens

(serves 4)

4 rounds of fresh goat cheese, each about 2 ½ inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick

¾ cup virgin olive oil, plus oil for greasing the baking dish

4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried, plus 1 additional teaspoon dried thyme for blending with bread crumbs

1 cup fine, fresh bread crumbs

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Salt to taste, if desired

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 quart lettuce leaves cut into bite-size pieces (Boston leaf, spring mix or red leaf)

16 garlic toast slices

Place the rounds of goat cheese in a flat dish and add ¼ cup of the oil. Add the thyme sprigs or sprinkle with one teaspoon dried thyme. Let stand eight hours or longer.  Blend the remaining teaspoon dried thyme with the bread crumbs and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the cheese rounds and coat them all over with the breadcrumb-and-thyme mixture. Put them in an oiled baking dish and place in the oven. Bake six to 10 minutes or until cheese is lightly bubbling and golden.  Meanwhile, blend the remaining half cup of oil with the vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour this over the salad greens and toss.  Serve the cheese on warm plates surrounded by garlic toast slices and the salad.  Eat!

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