Arugula Salad with Warm Chèvre, Apple, Hazelnuts and a Honey-Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette
4 cups freshly washed baby arugula greens
8 oz. chevre, log shape, at room temp.
1 cup very fine bread crumbs
¼ cup fresh chives, finely sliced
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup apple, cored and finely chopped
½ cup Honey-Mustard-Lemon Vinaigrette
12 large slices of toasted baguette bread
½ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup honey
Zest from one lemon
½ cup lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 to 1½ cups salad oil
STEP 1:Place arugula in a large bowl and keep chilled. Place the bread crumbs into a shallow bowl and set aside. Next, divide the chèvre into 4 portions. Place the cheese in a flat dish which has a light coating of olive oil in it. Gently press each round of cheese to flatten it a little. The rounds should be about ¾-1 inch thick. Drizzle cheese with olive oil and cover and refrigerate. This step can be done one day in advance.
STEP 2:Preheat your oven to 400°F. Take the chilled cheese out of the fridge. Now brush all the cheese rounds with olive oil on all sides. One by one, place each piece of chèvre into the bread crumbs. Make sure to cover them generously with the bread crumbs. Gently shake off excess crumbs and place each piece of cheese onto a sheet pan covered with parchment. Place the sheet pan into the oven and bake the cheese for about 5 minutes or until softened and completely heated through.
STEP 3:While cheese is heating, remove bowl of arugula from the fridge. Pour a small amount of vinaigrette over the greens and toss them to coat them with the vinaigrette. Add more vinaigrette as needed. Gently arrange the arugula evenly among four plates. Place 3 pieces of toasted baguette onto each plate. Leave space on the plate for the warm chèvre.
STEP 4:Carefully, using a thin spatula, lift the warm cheese from the sheet pan and place onto a plate with greens and baguette. Repeat with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle each plate with chives, apple and hazelnuts. Serve while cheese is still warm. Makes 4 servings.
STEP 5:Prepare vinaigrette: Whisk together the mustard, honey and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk in one cup of the salad oil in a fine, steady stream until fully incorporated. Taste the vinaigrette and add more of the remaining salad oil to make the flavor milder if desired. Set vinaigrette aside till salad is ready. You can also put the dressing into a jar or container and refrigerate for about 2 weeks. Makes about 2 ½ cups dressing
Chef’s Note: the chèvre can be shaped by using a large cookie cutter coated with olive oil on a plastic covered plate. A heart or star shape works nicely. Press room temperature cheese into the cutter with your fingers, smooth to make evenly thick. Remove the cutter and carefully lift the cheese up and place into the shallow dish with olive oil. Proceed with the remaining recipe steps. Chef’s Note: This dressing is really versatile. It can also be used on poached or smoked salmon, pieces of grilled chicken, or even on roasted vegetables- not just salad greens. It’s worth your while to make a large batch since it keeps well when refrigerated.