Warm goat cheese salad chèvre chaud recipe

Warm Goat Cheese Salad (salade de chèvre chaud)

My husband refuses to eat salad as a main dish.  C’est comme ça. In Antoine’s book, if a main meal is served cold, it’s not dinner – even when the temperatures soar to a sweltering 37°C like it did this week in Paris.

The Corsicans have a reputation of being stubborn and as just-as-stubborn a Scot, in our 20 years together, we always reach some kind of a compromise. For a salad, this delicious exception to his cold salad rule is a salade de chèvre chaud, since the goat’s cheese is melted under the grill.

French goats cheese salad

 

When I first tasted this salad as a student in a Parisian brasserie, it was a far cry from the one I later learned to make in Provence.  Alas, many brasseries use the horrid plastic-tasting, pasturised goat cheese which can be pretty nasty.

The best goat cheese to use is Crottin de Chavignol. The French are normally so poetic but when it came to officially naming this cheese, they somehow lost their romantic charm: it literally means goat’s droppings. I’m swiftly passing this part by, as it couldn’t be further from the amazing flavour of this lait cru (raw milk) cheese.

crottin de chavignol French goats cheese

As a student, Antoine introduced me to some of his friends in Provence.  I hardly spoke a word, apart from Je m’appelle Jill with the most attrocious Scottish accent. On top of that, their typical twangy southern accents had me even more bewildered: ‘du pain’ is pronounced ‘du paing’, ‘du vin’ is ‘du vaing’, and so on.  Even when they swear it has a song to it.

As the men sat around – catching up on gossip on the terrasse – the girls took me under their wings in the kitchen.  We didn’t need much conversation: everything was self-explanatory as the most fresh and flavoursome produce lay in front of us on an ancient oak table.

goat-cheese-salad

There’s nothing to this salad and it’s not even a recipe, really.  (If you would prefer me to write it out, please say, otherwise I’m just leaving it like this.)

The most important lesson I learned from them was to put a simple bay leaf on top of each slice of crusty baguette which had been dribbled with olive oil before laying the slice of chèvre, walnuts, rosemary (or herbes de provence) on top and dribbled with more olive oil before toasting in the oven.  What’s the big deal with the bay leaf?  Well, when you taste it this way you don’t want your salad any other way again.

warm goats cheese French salad

Serve on top of a mesclun salad, topped with a good dose of  lardons (bacon bits), a dash of fresh thyme and plenty of chopped garlic (don’t forget to remove the core first, as it’s easier to digest) that have been pre-fried together.  Toss the salad in some vinaigrette dressing.

Just remember to take out the bay leaf before eating: you’ll see just how it’s all beautifully fragranced;  oh-là-là, summer, Provence, and with a glass of chilled rosé amongst friends; and time for the girls to join in the gossip.

Warm goat cheese salad chèvre chaud recipe

This week’s soaring temperatures reminded me of when we lived in Paris, just 5 minutes’ walk from the Eiffel Tower.  Being in an apartment that was south facing with no air conditioning was a challenge at times in summer: it’s no wonder we used to just stoodge about in our swimming gear.

laurier bay leaf tree

Now that we’re out in the suburbs with a house, kids and garden, we can sit out and enjoy the shade of the laurel bay tree – thinking of our next salade de chèvre chaud.  But there are still the heat challenges: the metal on our front gate had expanded so much, that we couldn’t get out. Now, that’s certainly a new excuse for being late for school!

goat cheese melon watermelon salad

After our recent trip to the Loire, I’m craving more goat cheese.  This is what I had this week for lunch while it was 37°C  – and no, Antoine didn’t have this cold stuff. Roughly chopped cucumber, watermelon, melon de Cavaillon, goat cheese, chives – all tossed in olive oil and lemon juice (or mix olive oil and limoncello for something more adult) and served with a crusty baguette.

33 replies
  1. Vicki N.
    Vicki N. says:

    What are you using to shoot your very sharp photos…especially the first with the shutters?

    Understand back problems…have hobbled for the past month, but still groaning far too often. Hope you are out of pain very soon!

    Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Hi Vicky. I assume you mean the photos on my September newsletter that you received yesterday? It’s just my Samsung phone when I was on holiday! Luckily since I’ve been doing yoga my back problems are not nearly as bad as before but the secret is to stay active rather than lie down. Thanks so much for your kind wishes. Jx

      Reply
  2. Nami @ Just One Cookbook
    Nami @ Just One Cookbook says:

    How did I miss this post (it wasn’t in RSS feed…)? My husband also won’t accept salad as a dinner. I often ask if that option is okay….and get straight “no” answer. This looks like a very delicious salad. We love cheese and I wonder if we can find this cheese here…maybe some high end store with European goods. On another note, I didn’t know Paris can be that hot (37C) in summer!

    Reply
  3. Stasty
    Stasty says:

    Love the idea of the bay leaf on top. I’m going to try that next time. I totally agree, it’s a dish that is often ruined by terrible goats cheese. We have some great little artisan goats cheese producers here in Ireland which make for great salads. However many restaurants still use the bad stuff but it’s a great dish to make at home.

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      You bet you’re coming back to France, ok? Are you back in England yet? I’m sure you’ll get loads of lovely goats cheese there, too.

      Reply
  4. Anne
    Anne says:

    Beautiful salads, Jill. I love eating like this particularly when the temperatures soar! I won’t forget the bay leaf! ;- )

    Reply
  5. Amy
    Amy says:

    Jill, this salad sounds wonderful! I have had this type of goat cheese, but never in this way. It sounds delicious to have it warmed on top of bread and with a salad! This is my kind of meal :)! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend :)!

    Reply
  6. Kim - Liv Life
    Kim - Liv Life says:

    Hello to my friend in Paris!!! Goodness… are we married to the same man? My husband prefers his dinner to be a “meal” and salad is not a meal. Occasionally he gets salad anyway, but it must have meat in it.
    OK… I had to laugh at the “souther twang” comment! Sounds just like here, and even your phonetic descriptions sounded like our south as well.
    Love the limoncello with the melons!!!

    Reply
  7. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    Jill, this salad would be dinner… or lunch… or breakfast in my book! Goat cheese is my FAVORITE cheese and warmed with fresh greens is one of my favorite ways to eat it. It’s kind of amazing how such “simple” preps prompt the happiest responses on your tongue! 😀 Happy weekend!

    Reply
  8. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    My other half is the same he won’t eat salad (or soup)for dinner. It’s a lunch thing apparently! I’m sure he’d go for this though it sounds deliccious and I’m definitely going to try the tip with the bay leaf, love it!!

    Reply
  9. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite says:

    Your Antoine sounds exactly like my Neil – no salads as main courses unless it’s with chèvre chaud! I love this salad so much. In fact the Crottin de Chevignol was the first cheese I picked up yesterday on my first foray into the supermarket to stock my tiny Parisian appartement for the month!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Fantastic! You’re here. For the moment, I’m rather stuck with the back problem but hopefully after yesterday’s infiltration will be able to walk about and pop into Paris soon for a drink or a macaron.

      Reply
  10. ping
    ping says:

    Oooh, this looks divine! I love cheese, any cheese, goat droppings and all 😀 We had a similar crottin at a recent wine tasting that I blogged about and that was my favorite of the whole event … besides the wine, of course.

    Reply
  11. Manu
    Manu says:

    Ohhh I forgot… I hope your back gets better soon! My husband had a similar problem and it was so painful… luckily he got better and didn’t need to be operated, but it took some time… and lots of physio!

    Reply
  12. Manu
    Manu says:

    Hahahaha I might have to find a goat too… Chevre is one of my favourite kind of cheese! This salad reminded me of when I would go on holiday with my parents in Provence… I love the area of Grasse… have you ever been to a place called Confiserie Florian in Gorges du Loup?? I ADORE that place! We used to stock up on all kinds of sweets and jams… YUM! 🙂

    AMAZING salad Jill… now I need some of that heat… 😉

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Bah oui – adore Florian. Thanks, Manu. Hope you’re not too cold down under; bet your craving hot stews and hearty soups rather than salads!

      Reply
  13. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    Sorry about the back, hope your fit and well soon! Take it easy.

    The salad looks so good! I need to read this post again and again because Antoine and I are a lot alike in this respect. 🙂

    Reply
  14. Susan
    Susan says:

    Jill … have been a ‘stealth follower’ for quite some time … but please! I must comment on the simplicity and perfection of this warm salad … I just walked through our garden out in the back yard and will have a colander of mesclun greens tomorrow, have just purchased some chevre and have all the necessary items to make this perfect summertime knosh! Wheee!

    Reply
  15. Hester Casey - Alchemy
    Hester Casey - Alchemy says:

    Jill, you are so right. Food has its own language. I recognise the ‘du paing’ and the ‘du vaing’ twang – you learn what you can at school etc but then you realise that in the real world, things don’t work quite like you were taught. I love both versions of your salad de chèvre – lucky, lucky Antoine! As you say, cold salad, warm heart 🙂

    Reply
  16. Liz
    Liz says:

    My hubby’s the same way…wonder if the bacon would convince him that it’s an appropriate entree? I want a whole bunch of those lovely cheese topped baguettes on my serving…how fabulous! Will try the bay leaf trick 🙂

    Reply
  17. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time
    The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time says:

    This does look fantastic, Jill. I was also raised in a household where salad is what came after dinner. In fact, with Dad’s French vinaigrette, it was considered dessert.

    My Dad’s over there right now. He decided he wanted to celebrate his 84th birthday at “home,” so he’s in Paris living it up with old friends. If you see him, give him a kiss from me.

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      True – the salad does come after dinner here, too – but it’s just plain to go with the cheeseboard. These days, more and more friends decline this part, saying it’s so hard to digest! What a fabulous birthday your Dad must be having. Weather just right now (after beginning of the week) and so wish I could see him to say joyeux anniversaire. i’m currently stuck in bed with a slipped disc or something like that. So cheers to your Dad’s 84th in style!

      Reply

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