The country habit of marinating little goat cheeses in herbs and oil (olive oil along the Mediterranean or nut oil where walnuts do well) has recently gone global. It is hard to resist when the cheese is toasted to a bubbling brown, then served on a salad dressed with the oil from the marinade. Tart salad greens such as arugula stand up best to its lively taste.
- 6 ounces/175 grams salad greens
- 4 Marinated Goat Cheeses (below)
- 8 slices whole-wheat bread
- Oil from marinating the cheese, for brushing
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 6 tablespoons/90 milliliters/3 fluid ounces oil from marinating the cheese
- 2- to 3-inch/5- to 7-centimeter round cookie cutter
Wash and dry the salad greens, discarding any wilted leaves. Slice each cheese in half horizontally. Using a cookie cutter, stamp a round from each slice of bread slightly larger than the rounds of cheese. Brush the bread rounds with oil and set a round of cheese, cut side down, on top. For the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar with salt and pepper in a small bowl until the salt dissolves. Gradually add the oil, whisking constantly so the dressing emulsifies and thickens slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The greens, cheese, and dressing can be prepared an hour or two ahead.
To finish, heat the broiler. Broil the cheeses about 3 inches/7.5 centimeters from the heat until bubbling and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the greens with the dressing, then taste a leaf and adjust the seasoning. Pile the greens on individual plates. Set two rounds of cheese on each plate and serve while still warm.
Fromages de Chèvre Mariné (Marinated Goat Cheeses): Marinating adds depth of flavor to goat cheeses, delicious in any recipe calling for goat cheese, or served on their own with country bread. Small goat cheeses are best for marinating, and they should be quite dry. The leftover olive oil is great for grilling or in salad dressings.
Put 4 small round goat cheeses (about 2 1/2 ounces/75 grams each) in a 1 quart/1 liter/1 3/4 pint covered jar with 3 dried bay leaves, 2 teaspoons peppercorns, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, and 3 to 4 tiny dried hot peppers. Add 1 1/2 cups/375 milliliters/12 fluid ounces olive or walnut oil, or enough to cover them generously. Cover with the lid and leave at least 2 weeks before using. The cheeses are good for 3 to 4 weeks, but will soften if kept too long. As you use them, more cheeses can be added to the oil. Makes 4 cheeses to serve 4 people, with salad.
photo by France Ruffenach
Excerpted from THE COUNTRY COOKING OF FRANCE
by Anne Willan, Chronicle Books, 2007.