Ed. Note: Orinda’s “Chef Charlie” Vollmar is off to prowl the French Quarter in New Orleans this weekend – hinting that he just might send us a recipe from NOLA if time and cooking duties permit. We look forward to that. If any of you are trying his recipes, let us know how they’re turning out for you. Today’s recipe is for the salad lovers among us:
FRESH mixed market lettuces; quality goat cheese (I am a fan of Laura Chanel); FRESH home-made bread crumbs and Herbes de Provence; products for the dressing from Amphora Nueva, Lafayette (mention Epicurean Exchange and receive a friends and family discount) Amphora Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Blend and Pomegranate-Quince White Balsamic Vinegar, and a premium French grey finishing salt: Le Saunier de Camargue. See the Epicurean Exchange blog for our post on SALTS.
“The recipe calls for the use of Pomegranate arils (seeds), we are beyond the season, so I suggest adding fresh raspberries for color!
“For my taste and purpose, I narrow it to one brand for general finishing: Le Saunier de Camargue. “This premium French sea salt comes from the salt marshes of Camargue, a natural region located South of France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River delta. It is harvested in the traditional manner and contains no additives. Rich in minerals and lower in sodium than regular salt, it is a Chef’s delight. Try it on fresh tomatoes, caramel or chocolate for a taste experience that is truly exceptional!”
Baked Goat Cheese with Garden Lettuces and Pomegranate – Quince Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 8 ounces fresh goat cheese (one 2 by 5-inch log)
- 1/2 cup Amphora extra-virgin olive oil blend, divided
- 3/4 cup fresh herbed breadcrumbs (or prepared seasoned bread crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
- 6 cups mesclun (assorted garden lettuces or spring mix), washed and well-dried
- 2 tablespoons Amphora Pomegranate-Quince White Balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- French grey, sea finishing salt: Le Saunier de Camargue.
To Make the Bread Crumbs (makes about 3 cups):
Need: 1 loaf Pugliese Italian Country Bread or Sweet Batard (not sourdough) Amphora extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Remove the crust from the bread and cut bread into 1” cubes. Place in food processor and process until bread is finely minced. In a bowl, mix the crumbs with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil; season with salt and pepper, and toss until lightly coated. Place crumbs in a single layer on a sheetpan and bake at 350˚F, turning frequently until golden brown, about 20 – 25 minutes.
• Once the crumbs are the desired color, remove from the oven, cool, and return the toasted crumbs in the food processor. Using the pulse function, carefully blend until coarsely ground, but not powder. Alternatively, place in a plastic freezer bag and crust with a rolling pin. Use the amount necessary; store the remainder in a sealed bag in the the freezer for later use.
• In the meantime, slice the goat cheese (if too warm, place in the freezer for 10 minutes to become firm). Carefully slice the goat cheese into 8 disks about 1/2 inch thick. Place the disks on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan; lightly cover with the olive oil, and turn to coat.
• When the breadcrumbs are finished, place them in a shallow dish; add the Herbes de Provence and stir to combine. Gently press the goat cheese disks into the seasoned crumbs and return to the sheet pan.
• Preheat oven to 400˚F. When ready to serve, place the goat cheese disks in the center of the oven, and bake for about 6 – 8 minutes, or until the cheese is just warmed through.
• Place the lettuces in a bowl and dress lightly with the vinegar and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange lettuces on salad plates. With a metal spatula, carefully place 2 disks of the baked cheese on each plate, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, and fishing with a pinch of French salt. Serve immediately.