We’re peeking around the corner to spring. If you squint, you can see dinner on a patio in Brookside, picnics at Gathering Place and long walks after a weekend brunch.
A pretty and packed salad is one way to usher in spring to the kitchen table. Salads never go out of season, of course, but certain salads just sing out for spring.
The classic combo of spinach with strawberries and a poppy-seed vinaigrette dressing is one such salad. And it’s even better with crisp rounds of goat cheese. Goat cheese "croutons" are made by coating slices of goat cheese in egg followed by panko, and then frying in a bit of hot oil. The result is a crunchy outside and creamy inside that’s just perfect on a salad with spring strawberries, lettuce, cucumber and red onion.
This salad makes just enough for 2-3 people. Use a good bottled poppy-seed dressing if you don’t have the time to make your own.
Springtime Salad with Goat Cheese Croutons
1 (4-ounce) goat cheese log
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon milk
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls mixed greens
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
¼ cup sliced red onion
Cut goat cheese into five rounds. Place on a baking sheet, and freeze for 20 minutes.
Gather three bowls. In one, place flour. In the second, combine egg and milk. In the third, combine panko, salt and pepper. For each slice, place goat cheese first in flour, then egg mixture and then panko mixture, pressing coating into goat cheese. If your kitchen is warm and breading is falling off, place in refrigerator for 10 minutes or until crumbs adhere.
In a large skillet, heat oil until hot. Add goat cheese rounds, browning on each side, a few minutes per side.
To serve salad, combine salad greens, cucumber, strawberries and red onion. Top with goat cheese croutons and poppy-seed vinaigrette, to taste.
Just a touch of mayo in this dressing gives it a little creaminess.
Makes 1 cup
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
In a bowl, whisk the vinegar and sugar until the sugar is fully incorporated. Add the garlic, poppy seeds and salt, and whisk to combine.
While whisking, pour a steady stream of olive oil, continuing to whisk until fully combined. Whisk in mayo. Keep in the refrigerator, tightly closed, for one week.