Warm Goat Cheese Salad

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by Heather Harris Brady

The leaf lettuce is nearing its end in my garden (at least until fall) so I wanted to give it a fitting finish. Leaf lettuce takes me back. It was always one of the first things out of our garden each year – big, green, ruffly black seeded simpson. My grandma loved it. She made dainty lettuce sandwiches with butter and a skim coat of mayo.

I wish I loved it enough to eat it plain, but it’s just not that interesting to me. So, I have to fancy it up. You might see this on a french menu as croûtons au fromage de chèvre. It is always a winner, good to impress guests or just for a little bit of pampering after a long day in the cubicle. As an added bonus, you probably have most of the ingredients already in the fridge.

Here’s what you need to get started with the croutons:

Crackers (or panko crumbs if you want to be fancy), an egg, some goat cheese, and butter.

Set up a breading station. Beat the egg into one bowl, and crush the crackers into another. Then make some rounds out of the goat cheese. I made two, because this salad was our entree. If you were serving it as an appetizer you could make them smaller.

Dip each cheese round first in the egg, and then in the crumbs. Make sure it is fully coated in each step because it is this nice crust that will keep all the yummy cheese goodness inside.

Heat the butter in a skillet and when it is bubbling nicely, add your breaded cheese. Saute until they are nicely brown on each side.

While they are cooking, arrange your greens on a plate and drizzle them with a vinaigrette. Depending on mood, I have used honey-mustard (nice with pears and walnuts on the side), balsamic vinegar and oil (strawberries on the side) or fresh herbs with vinegar and oil. I have an asian style with ginger and ponzu on my list to try.

But I digress. After your greens are arranged and dressed, lift your croutons out of the pan and nestle them into the greens. At this point I like to grind a little pepper over the top. Because my dh was late getting home from work, I puttered around and used up the leftover beaten egg to saute some zucchini spears. I also frizzled some ham in the pan at the same time. I put the zucchini on the side and the frizzled ham over the top. If you were serving it for brunch a warm and runny  poached egg would nice here too.

The warm smooth cheese, crispy crust and tangy greens are a match made in heaven. I used a brand of goat cheese here that seems pretty universal, but if you happen to live near me then seek out Halprin’s Land of Goshen goat cheese at the farm markets.  I’ve classified this as a “sexy supper” because this comes together so quickly. It is a nice dinner when you want to surprise your S.O. after a long week without spending hours in the kitchen – not there’s anything wrong with that :)!

Stay cheesy!

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