Strawberry and Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad
This is an elegant, colorful salad of leaf lettuce and fresh strawberries, topped with delicious rounds of fresh goat cheese that have been coated in a mixture of panko crumbs and ground almonds, then lightly shallow-fried. The dressing is a sweet-savory blend of shallots, champagne vinegar, orange juice and orange zest. The contrasting colors and flavors make this dish a terrific first course for a special occasion meal.
- 10-1/2 ounce log fresh goat cheese
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 egg, beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water
- 3/4 cup panko crumbs
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the salad:
- 1 medium head red-leaf lettuce
- 1 medium head Boston lettuce
- 1-1/2 pints fresh strawberries, cored and sliced
- Sliced almonds for garnish
- Chopped chives for garnish
For the Orange-Honey Vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey (we used orange blossom)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Prepare the dressing:
- To make the dressing, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, about 1 minute. Add the orange juice and zest. Raise the heat to medium-high and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens to a syrupy consistency, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer the juice-shallot mixture to a small bowl and combine with the mustard, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and set aside until ready to serve.
Prepare the goat cheese:
- In a small dish, combine the panko crumbs, ground almonds and salt.
- Slice the goat cheese log into 12 rounds. Place the flour, egg and panko-almond mixture in three separate shallow dishes.
- Coat the goat cheese slices in flour, dip in the beaten egg, then coat with the panko-almond mixture. Press the cheese rounds lightly into the crumbs mixture to make sure that they adhere well.
- In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the cheese rounds in a single layer and fry until light golden-brown on the first side, about 2 minutes. Being very careful not to break the crust, turn the rounds over and fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to blot any excess oil.
Compose the salads:
- Wash and dry the two heads of lettuce and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Toss to combine and divide amongst four salad plates. Arrange the strawberry slices on top of the lettuce and garnish with a few sliced almonds, leaving space in the center for the fried goat cheese rounds. Set the dishes aside.
- Arrange three of the goat cheese rounds in the center of each salad plate. Drizzle with Orange-Honey Vinaigrette, garnish with a sprinkling of chopped chives and serve immediately.