Dear salade de chèvre chaud (goat cheese toast salad), thank heavens for you! If it wasn't for you, it would be much, much tougher to be a vegetarian in France. Even on the meatiest of bistro menus, I can usually count on finding some version of you. And even though I wouldn't eat you every day, je t'aime quand même! There is nothing like crusty slices of baguette toasted with smooth, creamy goat cheese...be it the fresh kind or a more pungent variety like a Rocamadour or a Crottin de Chavignol. Nestled on some lettuce along with some sliced tomatoes, toasted nuts and a dash of house vinaigrette, you make me say vive la France! I particularly enjoy having you with a glass of a crisp, fruity white wine such as a Sancerre or a Pouilly-Fumé. There's nothing like you, and I'm so grateful to have you! However...I do have a little confession to make...
With all respect, I may just may have figured out a way to make you even better! You see, when I make you, I usually top you with a mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (or crema di balsamico), because I think that the tangy-sweet taste of balsamic perfectly complements your creaminess. But then I remembered that when I was a kid, my salad dressing of choice at Indian restaurants was the classic Indian tamarind chutney. You can imagine what happened when I discovered the world's best tamarind chutney, from a recipe by Suvir Saran, which I posted last week. The balsamic that I usually use to top you quickly gave way to the tamarind chutney, whose sweetiness and spicyness (hello, cumin and fennel seeds!) is absolutely a match made in heaven with the goat cheese. Try it and you'll see what Suvir meant in the very kind comment that he left in response to the chutney post...this chutney is incredibly versatile and can go with everything from Indian snacks to ice cream to...salade de chèvre chaud!
The salad gets some additional Indian touches with toasted pistachios and dried cranberries (which I prefer to the more traditionally Indian raisins). I will occasionally add some chopped apples, but mangoes would make for a nice touch in this Indianized version. My dear salade de chèvre chaud, you are decidedly even better Indian style!
* Note - the recipe as below is just for one person, since my husband will not go anywhere near goat cheese. Feel free to double, triple, quadruple, etc. it to your heart's content! *
SALADE DE CHÈVRE CHAUD, INDIAN STYLE
5 baguette slices
40 grams (1 1/2 ounces) of goat cheese (I use this kind)
Big handful of mâche, spinach or lettuce of your choice
3/4 tomato, seeded and chopped into large chunks
1/4 cup toasted pistachios
1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F.
2. Spread the goat cheese on the baguette slices and place them on a small baking sheet or tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt just a little bit.
3. In the meanwhile, plate the mâche/spinach/lettuce and tomatoes. When the goat cheese toasts are ready, arrange them on the salad and top with the pistachios and dried cranberries/raisins. Top with tamarind chutney and keep some on the side to add as necessary.
P.S. Make sure to have some fruity white wine with this for the full experience!