Goat cheese and crusty bread are one of my favorite combinations. This recipe, with handfuls of lettuce, allows me an occasion to indulge in that preference.
I first made this salad last summer after taking a cooking class with Barbara Lynch using a menu from Alice Waters Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook. Since then I’ve made it a few times, but not recently until coming across it in Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times cookbook. Craig Claiborne ate this the day he met Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and included it in a story on goat cheese for The Times in June 1983. It is slightly varied from the recipe (the wording and amount of olive oil – Claiborne calls for 1/2 cup and Waters bless her heart 3/4 cup), which was published in the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook in 1980. This is the NYT version.
Alice Waters Baked Goat Cheese with Salad
4 rounds fresh goat cheese, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme plus 1 tsp dried thyme for blending with bread crumbs
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups lettuce leaves cut into bite-sized pieces (use greens such as arugula, red leaf lettuce, and so on)
Garlic Toast Slices (recipe follows)
Place the rounds of goat cheese in a flat dish and add 1/4 cup oil. Add the thyme sprigs or sprinkle with 1 tsp dried thyme. Let stand for 8 hours, or longer refrigerated.
Blend the remaining tsp of dried thyme with the bread crumbs; set aside.
Heat the oven to 400. Remove the cheese rounds from the oil and coat them all over with the bread-crumb-and-thyme mixture. Put them in an oiled baking dish and place in the oven. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly bubbling and golden.
Meanwhile, blend the remaining 1/4 cup oil with the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour this over the salad greens and toss.
Serve the cheese on warm plates, surrounded by the garlic toast, with the salad.
Garlic Toast Slices
12 thin slices crusty French bread, preferably cut from a small round loaf
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 clove garlic, cut in half
Heat the oven to 350.
Brush each slice of bread on both sides with melted butter. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the bread is crisp and lightly browned. Rub each slice with a cut clove of garlic and serve warm.
Love this photo of Alice Waters from 1967.