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Wilted Bitter Greens Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

2012 May 2

There may be a little finessing going on with the title of this one.

I’ll be honest: we’re gonna fry up some goat cheese and put it on a salad, y’all.

Oh, yeah.

Bitter greens aren’t up everyone’s alley, especially raw. And while I like most bitter greens, sometimes they get a little tired, especially after a fall and winter where that’s all that’s available or looking good at the farmers’ market. This recipe makes them seem new again — warming them to the point of slightly wilting, coated in a light vinaigrette and topped with fried goat cheese — and the wait for baby spring greens and produce season just a little bit easier.

If you’re into dandelion greens or escarole, mix it up with whatever you like or is in season; these just happen to be my favorites, plus generally pretty easily accessible at the average U.S. urban/suburban grocery store. And if you’re not a big fan of members of the chicory family? Give this one a whirl anyway; fried goat cheese on top and some dried fruit and toasted nuts mixed in might just make a convert out of you. I’ve also had success substituting walnuts for pine nuts in a pinch.

Wilted Bitter Greens Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

Serves 2

This is terrific two-person side dish with pretty much any grilled or roasted meats, but I’ve definitely made it on its own for a satisfying solo vegetarian dinner or rainy day/splurge-on-myself hearty lunch with a glass of wine. It also nicely divides by four (one goat cheese round per person) for an appetizer.

Ingredients

For the goat cheese:

1/2 cup pine nuts, divided

1 slice bread, toasted and crusts removed

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 4-oz log chevre goat cheese, cut into 4 equal pieces (Pro tip! To easily and uniformly cut soft goat cheese, use thread or unflavored dental floss and make sure the cheese is very, very cold.)

1 egg white, beaten with 1 teaspoon water

For the salad:

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 to 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/2 head radicchio, cored and cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup baby arugula, washed

1 head Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices

1/4 cup dried tart cherries or cranberries

salt and pepper

Method

In a food processor, pulse 1/4 cup pine nuts until they are coarsely chopped. Tear the bread into pieces and pulse in the food processor with the chopped nuts until they become coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the chopped and parsley and pour onto a plate. Smoosh each piece of goat cheese into disk of relatively uniform thickness. Dip each disk in the beaten egg mixture and then coat with the breadcrumbs, gently pressing the crumbs into both sides of the disks. Place on a place and pop in the freezer, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

In a large, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the remaining 1/4 cup pine nuts, shaking gently occasionally until brown on all both sides, about 4 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Remove to a container to cool.

Coat the bottom of the frying pan generously with olive oil (how much will depend on the size of your pan; in my 10-inch skillet I use around three tablespoons) over medium-high heat. Carefully fry the goat cheese disks until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Place on a plate and keep warm in the oven.

Quickly and carefully wipe any burnt crumbs out of the pan with a paper towel and add shallots to the pan. Reduce heat to low, cooking the shallots slightly with the residual heat. Add the Dijon and sherry vinegar to the pan and whisk to combine. Add the radicchio, arugula, and endive and season with salt and pepper. Toss to fully incorporate with the vinaigrette and to allow the salad to slightly wilt. Taste for seasoning, add toasted pine nuts and cherries or cranberries and toss again.

Divide the wilted salad between two plates and top each with two goat cheese disks. Serve immediately.

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