Saturday, January 12, 2013

Melty Cheese Croutons on a Salad

Look, a salad!  Back to some semblance of nutritious and healthy meals.  Well, sort of.  It's a great salad topped with pan-fried, panko-coated, cheesy goodness.  It's protein, so it's fine.  Yes, we're going with that.

This salad has become a weeknight staple for us, and we've got the procedure down pretty well.  We like to serve it with a local artisan rosemary bread, and makes it a wonderful meal.

I've trimmed down the amount of cheese used, only because the original amount was just too much (and we love cheese).  You don't want to finish a salad and have the "ughhhh" feeling.  That's for Thanksgiving.  Or the Super Bowl.  Or a lonely Friday night when you've eaten ice cream straight from the carton.

We also adjusted the ratio slightly as we preferred a bit more of the jack than the goat cheese.  But you can tweak this to your own tastes.  We used a basic goat cheese from Trader Joe's, and a local jack from Mt. Townsend Creamery - New Moon.  This time I also threw in a bit of Beecher's Flagship cheese, just because we had it.

 A tart, fruity vinaigrette cuts through the richness of the cheese in a great way, and is the perfect topping.  This salad has a lot of potential for versatility, and I look forward to updating it with the seasons.

Melty Cheese Croutons on a Salad
(from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 2 servings of 3 medallions each

2 oz. goat cheese, left out to warm and soften a bit
3 oz. semi-firm cheese of choice (we used a jack, Smitten Kitchen used a soft gouda), grated
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 egg
3 Tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil, for frying

Mixed greens, of choice (we use spinach)
Carrot, chopped
Sweet peppers, chopped
Beets, roasted and chopped (or if you're lazy like us, canned)
Apple or pear, chopped
Fruity vinaigrette, of choice (we use a pomegranate vinaigrette)

Prepare veggies, and toss in individual bowls.  Set aside, ready and waiting for the croutons!

Mash together cheeses in a bowl, mixing until combined. Form the mixture into six 1-2 inch balls and then flatten each slightly into thick patties. Arrange three small dishes for dredging stations: Place the flour in the first one, beat the egg lightly in the second, and mix the breadcrumbs and salt in the last one.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Once hot, fry each patty until golden and crispy, about two minutes per side. It’s going to get melty, and seem pesky to flip once warm, but that's okay, it's worth it!  Turning with two forks made it slightly less difficult.

If they are quite oily, briefly pause the crouton on paper towels to drain excess oil.  Ours usually aren't, so we put them directly on top of the salad, and top with a fruity vinaigrette.  Serve with your favorite artisan bread.


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