Strawberry season is here and the markets are brimming with fresh berries. Living in Charleston, we enjoy taking advantage of the abundant local produce. This Cinnamon Pecan Cookie Encrusted Goat Cheese and Strawberry Salad is one of our favorite ways to enjoy the harvest.
Of course, strawberries are always a hit in desserts. Last year, we combined them with a luscious lemon custard for our Lemon Sugar Cookie Trifle. But they are also delicious in savory dishes, like this spring salad. We love the classic combination of strawberries, goat cheese and pecans on dark greens. The sweet, juicy berries work well with slightly bitter greens like arugula. A tangy goat cheese contrasts with the sweetness of the strawberries. And it all balances out with toasted nuts for crunch.
A lot of people use candied pecans in this kind of salad. They are sweet and salty with just enough crunch that you don’t even need croutons. So those tasty pecans inspired us to use our Cinnamon Pecan Cookies to encrust the goat cheese. At first we thought it might be too sweet. But when we tried it out, the balance of nuts, sweetness and cinnamon was the perfect coating for the tangy cheese. And we really wanted to enjoy them warm, in the style of the classic French salads that we love.
A three part breading method is needed. The first coat of flour gives us a dry surface for the egg to cling to. The egg is sticky enough to adhere the cookie pieces, along with additional pecans for crunch. Once the little rounds are coated, we popped them in the freezer to harden. That way, they didn’t melt into the pan when we went to sear the cheese. You’ll want to have the rest of the salad components all completed once you get to this step. That way you can top each guest's salad with a warm round.
The salad is finished off with a Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette. It’s a nice, bright dressing to pull all the elements together. Plus, we love how easy it is to make. Just put all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake! What could be more simple?
Cookie Encrusted Goat Cheese and Strawberry Salad
Makes 4 Individual Salads
4 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water
1/2 cup Grey Ghost Bakery Cinnamon Pecan Cookies, crushed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped finely
Canola oil, for searing
10 ounces arugula
8 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced
Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette (recipe below)
- Cut the goat cheese into 4 rounds. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Use 3 shallow dishes for breading the goat cheese. Place the flour in one, the egg in one and the cookies and pecans in the third.
- Lightly the coat the goat cheese with the flour. Then coat in the egg. Finally, coat the goat cheese in the cookie/pecan mixture.
- Place the coated goat cheese back in the freezer for 30 minutes to one hour.
- Heat a wide saute pan over medium heat.
- Add enough canola oil to cover the goat cheese rounds halfway.
- Sear the goat cheese rounds until browned and crispy on the bottom. Flip and finish cooking on the other side.
- Divide the arugula and strawberries between salad plates. Top each plate with a warm goat cheese round and a drizzle of the vinaigrette.
Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup canola oil
- Place the lemon juice, dijon, grated garlic, honey, shallot and thyme in a pint mason jar. Season with salt and pepper.
- Shake to combine.
- Add the oils and shake again until emulsified.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.