Wednesday, January 2, 2008
fried goat cheese salad with maple-mustard vinaigrette
My brain is made up of multiple parts. I'm not referring to the standard anatomical parts, but instead to some other "special" parts. For example, there is a part that blindly believes I can never own too many vintage Shiny Brite ornaments, and a part that has secretly been a little afraid of semis and ice cream trucks (I know...) ever since I saw Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive as a child. Among these many special parts of my brain is a part that, thankfully, only rears its self-righteous, indignant, listen-to-me-right-now head every once in a while, when it unreasonably thinks the rest of my brain has taken total leave of its senses. And the other day as I was driving home, it started to talk to me...just whispering at first, but it quickly escalated into a full-blown scream:
What are you doing out here? (no reply)
How come you moved so far away from your family and friends? Please be quiet.
Wasn't it nice to be home, and at Notre Dame, for the holidays? I'm not listening to you.
And don't you want to work in Nashville, much closer to--STOP!
I'm sure this appearance of The Voice -- the one that delights in questioning my life decision-making skills -- was brought on by a little bout of homesickness that arose after I returned from a Christmas holiday that was even more family oriented than usual. Fortunately, I won out in the end, as I usually do, by drowning it out with the loudest music my ears can stand. There are worse ways to deal with Doubt, I'm sure.
This is not a salad for those days when your brain -- or anyone else, for that matter -- is screaming at you, lest the screaming prevent you from fully appreciating how glorious this salad is. The fried goat cheese is like an upscale, swoonworthy version of a mozzarella stick and it pairs perfectly with the Dijon vinaigrette. I made a few changes from Jennifer's original recipe, which calls for roasted beets in addition to the fried goat cheese. I chose to omit the beets here, but I have made the recipe as directed before and if you're a fan of beets, you will certainly appreciate what they add to the salad. The other change I made was to cut back on some of the oil in the vinaigrette and increase the mustard and vinegar. Jennifer's recipe yields a vinaigrette with a delicious, mellow flavor, but I prefer my dressings to be a little more on the tart side. If your tastes parallel mine, use my adaptation as a guide. If not, pop over to her site for the original.
Fried Goat Cheese Salad With Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Adapted from this recipe by Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess
Serves 3-4 as a side salad
Fried Goat Cheese
8 ounces soft goat cheese, cut into thick slices*
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil for pan-frying goat cheese
Preheat a frying pan with oil over medium heat. In a bowl stir together bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with remaining salt and pepper. Coat each piece of cheese evenly with egg mixture and then with crumb mixture, pressing gently, and transfer to pan. Fry goat cheese, turning over once, until crumbs are lightly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes.
* I like to use the garlic-herb goat cheese.
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 cups mixed baby salad greens
Toasted pine nuts for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients except for the oil. Slowly pour in oil while continuing to whisk ingredients to emulsify. Arrange salad greens on individual serving plates. Pour half the dressing over the greens, add the slices of goat cheese, and then drizzle on the other half of the dressing and serve immediately.