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Warm Goats Cheese Salad

Warm Goats Cheese Salad

Warm Goats Cheese Salad

Warm Goats Cheese Salad

Warm Goats Cheese Salad or Salade de Chevre Chaud, as it's called in French, has to be one of my favorite dishes which is just as well because in France, where I live, it has a place on most menus.
Essentially a Salad de Chevre Chaud literally is warm goats cheese served on a bed of salad.
The goats cheese is almost always placed on a small round of bread (croute) and it's usually eaten as a starter or as a lunchtime main course. 

The goats cheese part of a Goats cheese salad comes in many forms and many sizes, the classic being the use of Crottin de Chavignol.
Crottin is a small puck sized goat cheese traditionally from the Loire region in France.
It has a natural rind that varies in color from pale ivory (when young) to almost black (when aged) and is perfect for grilling.
Flavors range from soft and nutty to hard and fruity depending on it's age. Most crottins are used when young however.

Other goats cheese used in Chevre Chaud often depends on where you are in France.
As goats cheese is widely made across France it's more likely to be the local Goats that you'll be having in varying forms from individual cheeses (like a Crottin) to slices cut from a "log".

If you're not in France and can't get hold of Crottin from a specialized cheese shop it's ok to use any goats cheese as long as it's not too soft.
The goats cheese logs that you can find in some higher end stores are fine, just cut them into rounds.
Some deli-counters will sell you a chunk of goats and if it's a large round you can either just have 1 large slice or cut it in half.

Remember - not all goat cheese cooks the same.
Crottins will take between 3 and 4 minutes maybe more if they are hard whereas sliced goat cheese with a soft centre will only take a minute until is starts to boil up.

Bread wise, here in France it's baguette that is used but any bread will work.
Specialty breads are a lovely addition, you can use a walnut bread, a cumin bread or a pumpernickel if you're looking for more flavor.

If you prefer your bread to be crispier you can toast it before putting the cheese on just be careful not to burn the bits showing when grilling the cheese.
Likewise, I have seen recipes where the crottin and breads are toasted separately then assembled for service.
This is ok but be careful, a lot of goats cheeses are tricky to move when warm so I prefer to skip that step and have them already assembled.

As far as the honey goes, where I live mountain honey is drizzled over the top which is delish but if you have a fig chutney or a chilli jelly you can always spread the bread with it and then top with the cheese for a new dimension. 

A beautiful accompaniment for goats cheese is beetroot for those who like it and slices of apple or strawberries also work when in season.

Crottin de Chavignol

An aged Crottin de Chavignol, the younger Crottins are lighter in colour

Salad de Chevre Chaud

Here in the Pyrenees Salad de Chevre Chaud if often drizzled in mountain honey.

Warm Goats Cheese Salad

Don't be fooled by the hard exterior, the interior becomes soft and creamy once warmed through.

Warm Goats Cheese Salad

If you are unable to find Crottin a regular goats cheese will work.
Seen here grilled on top of baguette.

Warm Goats Cheese Salad
Ingredients: 

Recipe for 2 people

Goats Cheese - 2 Crottin de Chavignol cut in half or 4 thick slices of other goat cheese
4 croutons of Bread - either French baguette cut into 1cm thick rounds or sliced bread cut into pieces the same size as the goats cheese
1 tbsp Liquid/clear Honey 
2 tsp Olive oil
4 Walnut halves

 

Salad leaf - enough for 2 good sized portions
1/4 Red onion sliced very thinly
10 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/5 Cucumber - deseeded and cut into 1cm cubes
1 tbsp Walnut pieces - toasted and cooled
Best Ever Salad Dressing - as per the recipe on this site

The Mix: 

Prepare the all the salad ingredients as usual and arrange on a serving plate - you can dress in advance if you prefer as it doesn't take long to cook the goat cheese.

Cut the bread to the same size as your goats cheese - no crusts
Spread each croute liberally with honey and place on a baking tray
Place goats cheese on each croute and brush with a tiny amount of olive oil 
Put a walnut half on top of each goats cheese then place under a hot grill to cook until top starts to bubble up then take out immediately - Be careful not to burn the walnut like I did!
Drizzle the remainder of the honey over the cheeses then serve on top of the prepared salad - 2 each portion.

Drink This: 

Goats Cheese is well at home with either dry white wines and some sweet whites.
This time I've gone with a classic Chablis from Burgundy

Chablis

Comments

A couple of years ago I had the most luxurious delicious salad I had ever had. It was indeed warm goat cheese on a bed of shredded beetroot, a little quinoa and some other ingredients smilar to yours, the difference was that the goat cheese was presented in a a very light and fluffy whipped form and yet it was warm. I have since longed to re-produce it. How can I present goat cheese in this very light fluffy form yet warm?

Many thanks

di's picture

Hi Gianna - I love the idea of a bed of beetroot, it's a fabulous accompaniment to goats cheese.
So, for a whipped version of this there are a couple of options:
If you have access to a wide range of goats cheeses there are lighter and airier choices to be found. These are generally younger and softer but take on the same appearence as Crottin although not "whipped'.
The other choice would be to find a young soft goats cheese and whip it yourself (high speed with a whisk on a mixer) then mould into small shapes, refrigerate until the outside goes hard  (you can add a crust of your choice such as paprika etc). When you want to use it, put it on a croute and grill it on a semi high heat. Be careful not to overcook though as it will colapse.

As always - the key to warming through goats cheese is not to over cook it and not to make it too hot. Any dairy that has air (ie: whipped) in it will colapse when heated so medium heat until it just starts to loose it's volume then you're set to go.

Hope this helps.

 

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