Salade au Chèvre Chaud
When the weather’s hot, I rarely crave more than a simple salad; during my travels throughout the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur, a salade au chèvre chaud became my favorite lunch. I was in New York one scorching summer’s day and had an intense craving for the dish. I thought back to the warm, gooey goat cheese melted over rustic toasts and bright, fresh tomatoes and salad - and became obsessed with the idea of having it for lunch. My friend waited impatiently as I proceeded to call up all the French bistros and cafes in the West Village until I found one that served it !
For me, this dish is really about the beauty of contrasting flavors. Baking the chèvre (goat cheese) exaggerates its tart, pungent notes; the warmth, tangy flavor and gooey texture marks the perfect complement to the cool, fresh, crispness of the salad. Southern France abounds with refreshing produce, and salads became one of my favorite ways to beat the heat.
The chèvre is truly the star of this meal. While it’s easy to find fresh logs of goat cheese in your local supermarket, I would instead opt for a semi-ripened variety. Given more time to age, the chèvre develops a soft, edible rind that releases more complex flavors and is better for melting in the oven. Finish with a sprinkling of cracked pepper and a glass of provençal rosé to be transported back to the sunny coasts of the Riviera.
Salade au Chèvre Chaud (Warm Goat Cheese Salad)
1 log semi-ripened goat cheese
2-3 cups green salad (arugula, baby lettuce, or spinach)
1-2 heirloom tomatoes
Drizzle of olive oil
1 pinch herbes de provence
Edible flowers (optional, decorative)
3 Tbsp champagne vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 pinch cracked pepper
Preheat oven broiler. Cut baguette into 1-inch slices and spread on a baking sheet. Top with ½ inch slices of goat cheese, a drizzling of olive oil, and a pinch of herbes de provence. Bake 5-7 minutes on top rack, watching closely that toasts don’t burn.
While toasts are baking, whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Slice tomatoes and wash 2-3 cups green salad - I like arugula for its peppery kick, but baby greens or spinach are fine too. Assemble ingredients on plates and serve immediately while goat cheese is hot.