I was chatting with a friend recently about his upcoming move to North Carolina when he mentioned that he once lived there "way back in the 90's." This immediately sparked a mental mini conversation with myself. "Were the 90's really that long ago? I mean I know the 80's are retro, but do we have to throw the 90's in there now too? Wasn't it just yesterday that I was doing the Macarena and checking the TV guide for when the next episode of The Cosby Show was on!" Noticing the mental struggle I was having by the puzzled look on my face, my friend chuckled and reminded me that time really has flown by. So, I conceded to the idea that the 90's were far enough in the past to now celebrate them and some of its trends as vintage style. Therefore, I pulled this warm goat cheese salad recipe out of the 90's vault and gave it a dash of current foodie flair with some roasted figs and sweetened the deal with a couple of Honey Ridge Farms amazing products. Thanks to living out a third of the 90's in Belgium as an expat, I have many fond memories of this dish. In fact, after discovering this French creation in our French speaking city of Brussels, I am sure I ate every version that existed across Europe during those few years. When you love something enough to know how to order it in French, you just go with it. A combination of crisp warm tangy cheese atop delicate greens tossed in perfect vinaigrette and a drizzle of honey to top it all off became my European comfort food that smoothed out the rough edges of moving to a place much more drastic than North Carolina.
Retro Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Roasted Figs and Honey Vinaigrette
Goat Cheese Rounds:
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme choppe
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 large egg whites
8 ounces fresh goat cheese logs, cut into 8 rounds
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons Honey Ridge Farms Balsamic Honey Vinegar
1 teaspoon Honey Ridge Farms Clover Honey Creme
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6-8 fresh (or dried and rehydrated) mission figs, halved
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons Honey Ridge Farms Clover Honey Creme
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
8 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 yellow sweet pepper, julienned
2 teaspoons Honey Ridge Farms Clover Honey Creme for drizzling
Prepare goat cheese: Place panko, thyme, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Beat egg whites until foamy in a separate shallow dish. Press each goat cheese round into 1/4-inch disk. Dip goat cheese rounds, one at a time, into egg whites then into panko mixture, pressing crumbs slightly into goat cheese. Place all goat cheese rounds onto a tray and chill for at least one hour.
Prepare honey vinaigrette: In a small mason jar with a tight fitting lid, add all vinaigrette ingredients, except the oil, and shake to mix well. Next add the olive oil and shake to incorporate. Chill until ready to use.
Prepare figs: Preheat oven to 400°F. Put figs, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Once melted, whisk in honey creme, cinnamon and salt. Drizzle the honey butter over the figs and roast 10 to 15 minutes until figs are soft and gooey. Set aside.
Turn oven temperature to 375°F. Remove chilled goat cheese rounds from refrigerator. Using a spatula, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, until warm throughout, then finish of under the broiler for 2 - 3 minutes until golden brown. Set aside for several minutes while preparing the greens.
Remove vinaigrette from the refrigerator and shake well. Toss dressing with greens and sweet pepper. Divide greens among four individual serving plates. Top each pile of greens with figs and two warm goat cheese rounds. Drizzle some more Honey Ridge Farms Clover Honey Creme on top of the warm goat cheese rounds. Serve immediately.