Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Warm Pistachio Encrusted Goat Cheese Salad

Today I decided to make one of the most amazing “salads” I have ever had the pleasure of consuming. My father and I took my mom to a small Italian restaurant in Birmingham, AL last month for her birthday. We entered Gianmarco’s off Broadway Street in Homewood a little after 9pm. The establishment was crawling with people in search of never-ending bottles of wine and a hearty meal. To my surprise, we were seated right away for our 9pm reservation. I decided to order a salad to start the night prior to trying that night’s special: Veal Chop Parmesan. I ordered what seemed to be a simple salad, but what turned out to be an out-of-body culinary experience like I had never had before! After trying my hand at a few different recipes and finally finding the closest one to the dish, I present to you now my favorite salad recipe to date: Warm Pistachio Encrusted Goat Cheese Salad.


1 12oz. log goat Cheese (I used Silver Goat) very cold or frozen
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 egg
1 TSP Dijon mustard
1 TSP lemon zest
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
½ cup finely crushed pistachio nuts
French Bread
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP canola oil
Balsamic Glaze

Beat together egg, mustard, lemon zest, salt & pepper. Set aside. Crush/pound shelled pistachio nuts until finely crushed. Set aside. Cut goat cheese log into equal portions forming the goat cheese into 1.5 inch discs. Take one disc and dust with flour. Then take cheese disc and dredge in beaten egg mixture. The roll disc around in crushed pistachios until fully covered.

Meanwhile slice a crusty French baguette into one inch thick slices. Drizzle with olive oil and toast in oven for 3-5 minutes on low broil.

While bread is toasting, heat canola oil on medium-high heat in non stick skillet. Once hot, add goat cheese disc to skillet. Pan-fry the goat cheese disc until golden brown on all sides.

Serve warm goat cheese disc atop a bed of arugula. Slice watermelon into thin wedges and arrange on plate. Drizzle balsamic glaze over greens, fruit and cheese and serve toasted crostini alongside the salad. Enjoy!

TIPS: Substitute strawberries or another sweet fruit in place of watermelon if it is not in season. If you do not have a balsamic glaze, you can make your own by boiling balsamic vinegar and sugar down to a thick reduced glaze. Also, feel free to make multiple "mini" goat cheese discs instead of one larger one. Finally - if you freeze the goat cheese, it will slice much easier without crumbling!