It was a sad moment when we savored our last round of Capricorn Somerset Goat Cheese. A cheese not soon to be forgotten, I encourage you to check out how it is produced with milk from goats in the West country of Somerset. Using a vegetable rennet, it even carries the vegetarian society sticker of approval. Generous sponsors they were of the Plate to Page Workshop, I recently attended, we even had extras to take home.
I’ve already confessed to the powers at be that I flew home with three rounds carefully boxed in my suitcase. Praying my suitcase wouldn’t be lost in route or stashed overnight as was the case on my way TO Bristol due to a canceled flight, worked. It arrived safely and we enjoyed it the following week… mostly on rye toast with fresh cherry tomatoes. But I did manage to stash one roll in the back of my small fridge that truly, only I know the layout of, in order to make something special like this beautiful goat cheese salad with candied pistachios.
This salad, one I’ve rendered in a similar fashion many times, launched me into a an excited frenzy of menu planning. And I mean that in a good way. First course, goat cheese salad; 2nd course, scallops dusted with Halen Môn Welsh Smoked Sea Salt accompanied by a delicate citrus sauce, fresh asparagus and a creamy goat cheese polenta. The finale, a sophisticated Coffee Kahlua Pots de creme using Nielson Massey Coffee Extract. Keep an eye out for these two courses, also enhanced with products donated to our Plate to Page weekend, in the very near future.
Start by shelling salty, roasted pistachios. Try to fill about a 1/4 to 1/3 measuring cup before you eat too many. Know too, you will most certainly nibble on the candied pistachios before they top your salad. If you do make them ahead of time, I suggest asking a loved one to hide them from you.
Heat the pistachios in a small pot on low to medium and add 3-4 T sugar (I use raw cane sugar) and 1/2 tsp orange zest from an organic orange. As the sugar starts to melt, gently stir. The cooked sugar will stick to your utensil and you just have to do your best to scrape it off. Keep swirling and stir in the orange zest. You will see the moment when the sugar has melted. Please be careful it doesn’t start to burn. You can turn the heat down and make sure all sugar is melted into liquid and has coated the nuts. Scrape nuts out of pan and onto parchment paper to cool.
Now you’ve got a sort of pistachio brittle and you’ll think, why bother to go any further. But trust me… there is a good pay off at the end!
I cut out circles of bread using small ingredient size bowl. I hate to throw anything away… so you can save the rest of the bread to make mini croutons for something else. I fried this bread up in a little butter and olive oil.
The citrus vinaigrette: For 2-3 salads 2 T olive oil 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar 1 tsp orange juice tiny pinch of salt tiny pinch of dijon mustard dash of hot water Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake well.
I like to combine a delicate mache (corn salad) with a little spinach and add a bite with some tender arugula. I love the dark green arugula (rocket) this time of year, soft with a kick but not too spicy. And take a moment now to cut up a couple orange slices.
On a cookie sheet or metal plaque, place your already slightly fried bread and add a slice of Somerset Goat cheese. Bake for about 5-7 minutes at 400°F/200°C, until the cheese just starts to melt. Remove from oven. Let cool very little.
While the bread/cheese is in the oven, dress your salad greens and plate them. Ask loved one to retrieve candied pistachios and slightly chop a few but leave a couple bigger hunks.
Top your greens with your melty goat cheese toast. Garnish with candied pistachios, orange slices and some crushed red peppercorns if available for a little mild spice and you’ll love the color.
Really, I’m a humble person. Rather critical at times. But I’ll be damned if I wasn’t one happy camper gazing upon this salad. Colors mingled and jumped. I gathered the first bite onto my fork, careful to create a composition of all the ingredients. Creamy, tangy goat cheese nestled onto the thin, crusty edged, soft in the middle toast, hit my palatte first. My jaw opened slightly and teeth bit down through crunchy, sweet, salty, followed by tender greens. Sweet and sour citrus chose to linger on the sides of my tongue. I continued and it was glorious. Excuse me. I think I need to go be alone now.
So there you have it… Goat cheese salad with candied pistachios and citrus vinaigrette. If you live outside of the UK, it will be hard to find a substitute for this Somerset Goat cheese, but not impossible. Look for a nice young chevre with a moderate skin.
Guten appetit & Tschüß,