I was talking with a nutritionist the other day about diets. Not the trying to lose weight kind. Diets — as in — how we define our eating habits, whether vegetarian, vegan, raw, pescatarian, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, kosher, halal, low-carb and my personal favorite, omnivorous, i.e. eat everything, no restrictions. (Note: this is not an exhaustive list and I’m sure there’s other ways of fulfilling our daily caloric requirements.)
I certainly don’t want to be the Food Police. I know everyone comes to the table with their own beliefs, ideals and appetites. However, for an omnivore like myself, I prefer an inclusive rather than an exclusive approach to eating and usually abide by the “everything in moderation” mantra, which is why you’ll generally find a little of everything at Garlic + Zest, from vegan and uber-healthy meals to dishes that will utterly sabotage your good intentions.
I’d say this spinach salad and fried ch?vre leans toward healthy, with a few caveats. It scores points for the fresh vegetables including folate-rich spinach, vine-ripened tomatoes loaded with Vitamin A & C, and mushrooms which are a good source of iron, Vitamin D and potassium. So far, so good, right?
What makes this a little more indulgent is a crumble of bacon and a tangy bacon vinaigrette. To up the “wow” factor, I top it with a crispy, melty round of warm goat cheese. Doesn’t that sound good?
It’s simple to make, too. Just slice the goat cheese into rounds (using dental floss to slice the cheese allows it to hold its shape better than if you cut it with a knife) and coat the rounds with panko or breadcrumbs. Quickly crisp them in a little hot olive oil and drain on paper towels.
Top the individual salads with a warm goat cheese round, sprinkle with bacon and drizzle with the vinaigrette. It’s so good! Try this with a crust of good bread and a chilled white wine. And if you are the food police, please don’t come knocking on my door. 🙂
spinach salad and fried chèvre
- 12 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 4 hard boiled eggs peeled
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced or diced red onion
- 8 fresh mushrooms caps thinly sliced
- 7-8 slices bacon diced
- 4 campari or plum tomatoes cut into wedges - or 1 cup grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber peeled, seeded and sliced into half moons
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1/2 cup panko or dry breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
for the vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoon hot rendered bacon fat
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- special equipment: unwaxed unflavored dental floss
Heat a skillet over medium- medium high heat and add chopped bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally until bacon is browned and crisped. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat for the dressing.
Add the spinach, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumber in a salad bowl or arrange on a platter.
Peel the eggs and slice them into quarters - set aside.
Make the dressing
Add the bacon fat, olive oil red wine vinegar, shallot, dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to emulsify and set aside.
Slice the goat cheese with the dental floss. Lay the floss flat on a cutting board. Place the goat cheese on top of the floss and cross the ends of the floss. Continue to pull the ends until it cuts off an even slice. Repeat with the remaining goat cheese.
Place the bread crumbs in a dish and place goat cheese slices on top, lightly pressing the bread crumbs into the cheese. Flip the cheese and coat the other side with the bread crumbs.
Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the goat cheese rounds and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until just browned. Transfer to a paper towel lined dish.
If the rendered bacon drippings have started to congeal, microwave the dressing for 10-15 seconds to warm it and stir again to emulsify. Pour the warm dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Divide the salad onto 4 plates. Sprinkle each salad with bacon. Divide eggs among the plates and top each salad with the warm goat cheese. Serve.