Herbed Baked Goat Cheese
Makes 12 Rounds
The baked goat cheese should be served warm. Prepare the salad components (salad recipes follow) while the cheese is in the freezer and toss the greens and vinaigrette while the cheese cools a bit after baking.
1. Process Melba toasts in a food processor to fine even crumbs, about 1 1/2 minutes; transfer crumbs to medium bowl and stir in pepper. Whisk eggs and mustard in second medium bowl until combined. Combine thyme and chives in small bowl.
2. Using kitchen twine or dental floss, divide cheese into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball; roll each ball in herbs to coat lightly. Transfer 6 pieces to egg mixture, turn each piece to coat; transfer to Melba crumbs and turn each piece to coat, pressing crumbs into cheese. Flatten each ball into disk about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch thick and set on baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining 6 pieces cheese. Freeze cheese until firm, about 30 minutes. (Cheese may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for 1 week.) Adjust oven rack to top position; heat oven to 475 degrees.
3. Remove cheese from freezer and brush tops and sides evenly with oil. Bake until crumbs are golden brown and cheese is slightly soft, 7 to 9 minutes (or 9 to 12 minutes if cheese is completely frozen). Using thin metal spatula, transfer cheese to paper towel–lined plate and let cool 3 minutes before serving.
Salad with Herbed Baked Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette
Prepare the salad components while the cheese is in the freezer and toss the greens and vinaigrette while the cheese cools a bit after baking. Hearty salad greens, such as a mix of arugula and frisée, work best here.
Combine vinegar, mustard, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil. Season with pepper to taste. Add greens, toss gently to coat, then divide among salad plates. Arrange warm goat cheese on greens and serve.
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"Vegetables are perishable, so we don't have any indication of what they looked like 500 years ago," says James Nienhuis, a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin.