Summer is the time for sweet, juicy, tangy food and, of course, salads. While this is a very simple salad, of honey baked goat cheese, greens, arugula, and summer fruit, there are nuances that must be noted. A good salad must have a proper balance of fat, acid and salt, the ingredients must be fresh and the greens must be washed and dried properly. Get these things right and you can make a thousand good salads.
I grew up eating salad every night at every dinner, so it’s easy for me, but I realize that’s not the case for everyone. Luckily, there is a video of this salad, that I taped for the Williamson Source and that should be up the week of the 23rd. You can watch me make this very easy dressing using products from a local olive oil store very close to home, Olivia Olive Oil. If you live in the Nashville area, you must visit the store. You can taste everything, and there is a wide assortment of amazing olive oils and vinegars.
Olivia’s lemon zest olive oil and Olivia’s blackberry with red pepper vinegar come together to sing a summer song of sweet and tart and marry so well with the honey-baked goat cheese.
Spring greens mixed with arugula is a combination of fragile greens that can wilt easily and require very little dressing to taste good. Other types of greens such as romaine is full of water, and requires at least three times the amount of dressing. That’s not the reason I chose these types of greens. I chose a more delicate green because it’s more complimentary to the baked goat cheese, which tastes best when it’s set down into the salad warm, right before serving.
During the taping, Donna the host and I got into a conversation about the cook putting the dressing on the salad for the guests. I’m a firm believer of making the salad and tossing it. There’s no dressing on the side around here. The salad simply won’t taste as good, if it’s not properly tossed in the kitchen.
As I mentioned above, salad really requires balance of acid, fat and salt. It might take some practice to get this balance right, but once you do, I’ll bet you that more people will eat salad in your house. We eat salad with every single dinner. I grew up that way and for me, a meal isn’t complete without a salad.
Honey Baked Goat Cheese with Blackberry Lemon Vinaigrette
When an olive oil and a vinegar is high quality, a good vinaigrette is fairly easy to make. The blackberry red pepper vinegar is sweet and almost drinkable. That means that the ratio of vinegar to olive oil is going to be lower than a more acidic vinegar. In this case, we almost used a one to two olive oil to vinegar ratio. A 1 to 3 or 1 to 4 is more typical. Another reason I wanted more vinegar is to balance the sweetness of the berries and the goat cheese.
A fun garnish for the salad was a bit of shaved white chocolate. While not completely necessary, it’s a nice touch, as is a sprinkling of fresh mint. I used strawberries, but on the day of the taping we used raspberries along with blackberries. You could use any fruit you like, but blackberries are in season right now and a delicacy. I like to eat them in everything.
Some Tips for Making Salad and Vinaigrette
- Do not wash fruit or lettuces until ready to use. If you do, make sure they are completely dry and then wrap in paper towels before storing. Do not wash any berries before storing.
- Fragile greens need to be completely dry before applying a vinaigrette.
- A typical vinaigrette will be a 1 to 3 or 1 to 4 ratio oil to vinegar. Sweeter vinegars use ratio of 1 to 3 or 1 to 2. Always taste the dressing first. It should be tangy enough to wake you up, but not so tart that it’s hard to taste.
- You can make flavored olive oils by allowing an ingredient, lemon zest or basil, for example to sit in the oil for a few hours.
- Add Dijon mustard or honey to a vinaigrette. It will help to emulsify (come together and stay together).
- Add in a sprinkling of fresh herbs on top of the salad just before serving.
- Toss fragile greens and season before adding in toppings, especially delicate fruit such as berries. Use as little dressing as possible, because you can always add in more. Season with salt and pepper. Taste again, then decide if more dressing is needed.
This is perfect salad for a July 4th celebration. If taking it to a party, keep the goat cheese, fruit and dressing separate. Fix it at the party; otherwise it will melt. Perfect for someone who wants something sweet, yet healthy. You could consider this your dessert.
More Salads from Spinach Tiger
- 8 cups assorted spring greens and arugula
- 1 cup of Berries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries
- 6 slices of goat cheese
- 6 teaspoons honey
- 1 ounce white chocolate for garnish
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons blackberry vinaigrette
- 10 tablespoons lemon olive oil (can use regular olive oil see notes)
- 5 tablespoons blackberry red pepper vinegar (can use balsamic, see notes)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Wash and rinse greens and arugula. Use a salad spinner or paper towels to dry.
- Wash fruit, only right before using.
- Place sliced goat cheese on parchment paper. Drizzle each with up to a teaspoon of honey. You may not use all of it, just enough to cover.
- Bake goat cheese until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
- Assemble greens, first and toss with viniagrette. Use just enough to glisten the greens. Season green with salt and pepper. Toss again.
- Arrange berries on the salad.
- Place goat cheese on salad right before serving. Season once more with freshly ground black pepper.
- If you have Olivia lemon olive oil and blackberry red pepper vinegar, mix vinegar with mustard first and then pour oil in jar. Give a good shake. Taste. You can decide then if you want to add in more vinegar or more oil. Vinaigrette should be sweet and tangy.
10 tablespoons olive oil
juice of ½ lemon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup blackberries and 2 tablespoons honey preserves
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Mix blackberries with honey and blend well in food processor. Strain.
Mix mustard with vinegar and blackberry juice. Add lemon juice. Stream in olive
oil. Shake well.
Nashville’s Local Purveyors Used in Recipe
Olivia Olive Oil (lemon olive oil, blackberry red pepper vinegar)
Noble Springs Dairy Farm (goat cheese)