24 Dec 2012
Growing up, I was a bit of a weird kid. I liked eating vegetables. I blame it on my friend Cari whose mother raised her to be a vegetarian in a town known for eating BBQ. Some of that iconoclast eating ideas rubbed off on me. As much as vegetables with their varying colors and textures intrigued me, the idea of salad left me deadpan. It’s not hard to understand why. Salads still seem to be a word associated with dieting and wilted, lifeless leaves.
As an adult, imagine my surprise at meeting someone who has a gift for salads. I used to tell my friend Lisa she had the non-spiritual gift of making salads. She helped me see the fun and inventive canvas leaves can play for seasonal flavors. It’s been many years since my first Lisa salad, but I have a hunch she would give my creation below a thumbs-up. What made her salads so tantalizing was the deft skill at which she would combine flavors and textures so that every bite stood out on its own, slightly different than the previous one. That sense of surprise and discovery made me a salad believer.
Since we’ve gone gluten-free in our house, I had been looking to “healthify” the warm goat cheese salad. And let me tell you. This salad met stunning reviews from the resident eaters. I blame it on the nutty buckwheat and creamy goat cheese that when warmed contribute to a bid for perfect bite status. This holiday season, if you want to gussy up your table or are planning a small dinner party, you’ll find this salad with its colorful festive presentation might just make your evening sparkle and bring joy to your part of the world.
Harvest Warm Goat Cheese Salad
Make sure to keep your hands clean throughout this salad assembly. One of the best cooking tools is your hands and you certainly will be using them to construct this salad!
YIELD: 4 side salads
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 5 ounce goat cheese log
2 egg whites, lightly whisked
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 lb. lacinato kale
2 Fuyu persimmons
½ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Dash of salt and pepper
Assemble the Vinaigrette: In a small mixing bowl, add in the spoonfuls of mustard and honey. Pour in the vinegar. Then drizzle in the olive oil, and while drizzling, whisk the vinaigrette today. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Assemble the Salad: Cut the stems out of the center of the kale. Arrange kale leaves for a chiffonade (stack kale leaves on top of one another and with one hand press down on them to hold them in place while the other hand begins cutting the kale into thin strips.) Place the kale strips into a large bowl. Add in the persimmon chunks and dried cranberries. Then drizzle in the dressing over the kale salad. With tongs, distribute the dressing so all the leaves are well coated. Next, place your hands in the kale salad and begin massaging the dressing into the leaves. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
While the salad is set aside, place your almonds in a small pan over medium heat or toaster oven and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
Assemble the Goat Cheese Rounds: Place Buckwheat & Hemp cereal in a food processor with paprika, a pinch of salt and pepper and pulse until coarsely ground. Place the cereal meal in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites. On a cutting board, slice 4 ½ inch rounds of goat cheese from the cheese log. Dip the goat cheese rounds into the egg and shake off any excess egg. Then dip and roll them in the cereal meal until all sides are coated. Place on a plate until all rounds have been assembled.
In a large saucepan, pour in olive oil and turn heat onto medium. Once the base is hot enough and slick with oil, add in a few cheese rounds, but don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook on each side for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cheese rounds and place on a plate. Keep cooking the cheese rounds until all have been cooked.
Assemble Serving Plates: With your tongs, distribute the kale salad evenly over 6 plates. Make sure each plate has some of the cranberries and persimmons so each guest gets a pop of color and flavor. Sprinkle the almonds over each plate, equally distributing them. Place one crispy goat cheese round on each plate and serve.
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