For the longest time I've felt that goat cheese is the most overrated cheese around. Seriously, the giddiness I observe from people with their admiration for the creamy white cheese is almost ridiculous. I'll take Gouda, Brie, or Bleu (not spelled "Blue"-don't even get me started on that) any day over Goat cheese. Okay, I think you get the point. To all my faithful reading die-hard goat cheese fans: I apologize for my lack of love with the cheese you deem heavenly.
But goat cheese can be pretty freaking amazing on the right occasion. There are those times that I'm shocked at just how much I'm enjoying spreading it on crostini with some honey or fig jam. I really get down with goat cheese when it's dolloped on pizzas too. But still...I'm not exactly obsessed. Until I tried it fried several months back. My....oh...my, that was a day that my prized palate shall never forget. Warm, gooey and encased in golden-fried panko, it was incredible. But the best (and most ironic) part of it all, the devilishly luscious fried goat cheese was served along with a salad. Because that makes a lot of sense...
So, as you know, I sometimes take inspiration from fantastic restaurant dishes and make them my own. I believe the said fried goat cheese adorned salad came with beets and heirloom tomatoes but I could be mistaken. Regardless, I wanted something fresh and zingy to really contrast with the decadent cheese.
Since I'm a sucker for berries but there's only so many strawberry-topped salads I can handle, I thre some perfectly ripe raspberries in the mix. I gave it some extra flair by adding fresh basil and Mint too. What an awesome decision that was.... All topped off with an easy homemade Shallot Balsamic vinaigrette and it was a salad that even my greens-hating fiance loved. Like loved it so much he's asked me a few times since to make it again. Truth be told, if it wasn't for those unnecessary calories in my life, I could eat this salad every damn day. But my metabolism just doesn't like me that much.
Fried Goat Cheese Medallion Adorned Raspberry, Mint, and Basil Spring Salad
For the fried goat cheese medallions:
1 8 ounce "log" goat cheese
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2-3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the salad:
1 small bag spring mix or 50/50 Spinach and Arugula blend
1/2 cup raspberries
1/4 cup mint, cut chiffonade
1/4 cup basil, cut chiffonade
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons minced shallot
1/2 cup Balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 cup Extra virgin Olive Oil
1) Assemble the salad. Toss bag of preferred greens along with mint, basil, and raspberries. Set aside or place in fridge if you want your salad chilled.
2) Prepare goat cheese for frying. Cut the 8 ounce log of goat cheese into 6-7 equal size portions. The cheese should stay in circular form but you can easily re-form it into that medallion shape if not. Begin the dredging process. Spread and even layer flour on a plate. Then, in a shallow bowl, beat one egg. Last, spread an even layer panko bread crumbs. Now, in that same order, dredge the goat cheese. Make sure each medallion is evenly coated with flour, egg, and panko. Then place on a plate.
3) In a large-medium non-stick pan, bring 2 tablespoons EVOO to medium-high heat. Then, begin frying the cheese. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. You can do a few medallions at a time if needed. Make sure there's a good 2 inches between each medallion. Lightly fry on each side for 1-2 minutes or until golden. If working in batches, add 1 more more tablespoon EVOO and bring it to heat before adding the rest of the goat cheese.
4) Prepare the dressing by vigorously whisking together EVOO and balsamic. Sprinkle with salt and add the shallots and whisk again. Toss the salad with the dressing using as much or little dressing as you wish.
5) Place the fried goat cheese with the salad. Enjoy!
***Makes 2-4 servings, depending on portion