Warm Baked Goat Cheese with Spring Greens, Balsamic and Dried Cherries

With Easter just around the corner, my family was recently assigned the dishes to bring for dinner.  This year, I was excited to learn to that I am responsible for the salad course and I already know what I am bringing.   This recipe for Warm Baked Goat Cheese Salad is perfect.  It’s great for special occasions all year around, especially for those days when you are craving a summer salad, but your thermometer tells you it’s still below freezing outside.  The warm, tangy cheese with the deliciously light and crispy coating are a perfect contrast to the sweet, chewy cherries and the fresh, cool baby greens.  When serving this for a crowd, the cheese rounds can be marinated and breaded ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to bake them.  Then, just pop the sheet tray in the oven, wait 15 minutes and you have one impressive and easy salad.

Warm Baked Goat Cheese with Spring Greens, Balsamic and Dried Cherries

* 1 ½ cups olive oil

* 2 tablespoon minced garlic, fresh

* 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

* 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

* 8 ounces log-style goat cheese

* 1 cup panko bread crumbs, plain

* ½ teaspoon kosher salt

* ½ teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked

* ¼ cup parsley, fresh chopped

* 2-4 cups spring mix, or any colorful blend of tender lettuces

* 1/3 cup balsamic glaze, I used Gia Russa brand

* 1/3 cup olive oil

* ½ cup dried cherries


In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, rosemary, red pepper, oregano, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Using a sharp knife, divide the log of goat cheese into 8-1 ounce sections.  Lay gently in the oil mixture and let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.  In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, kosher salt, pepper, and parsley.  Remove the cheese from the oil and dredge each piece, one at a time, in the bread crumb mixture, being sure to cover all sides.  Place on a sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375.  Bake cheese for 15-20 minutes, or just until the crumb mixture turns a light golden brown.  While the cheese is baking, set out the salad plate and place ½ to 1 cup of mixed greens on each one.  Remove the cheese from the oven and add it to the plate.  Drizzle each salad with a little over one tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic glaze.  Sprinkle with dried cherries and Enjoy!

Serves 4

***Also, I have recently been making this salad and using the goat cheese marinade in place of the olive oil to dress the salads with.  It is delicious too! (note added 3/28/13)