Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Goat's cheese salad and vinaigrette

Today I had my last penultimate day at work. As in, the last penultimate Tuesday. Tomorrow I will have my last Wednesday, followed by my last Thursday and so on. And in exactly one week from this moment, I will have started my eight day holiday! I have so much planned for that holiday, I was supposed to have a lazy holiday and do absolutely nothing, but turns out I have already booked a place to a career event, hairdresser, optician, and I will try to clean the house from top to toe, maybe re-organise the kitchen cupboards, and definitely try to sow some seeds in the greenhouse, although it might be a bit too early in the year for that. But I'm hopeful for an early, long and sunny spring. Oh wait, I forgot I live on this godforsaken island, I bet we will have icy hail and subzero temperatures all through to early May just for spite. And one thing I will definitely do during my holiday is cook. I will cook something every day, and try to fill the freezer with homecooked meals we can eat during the weeks to come. I have a bit of a food planner, let's see what happens, maybe I will spend all of my holidays on the sofa playing Civilization and serving microwave meals... 

Of all the salads in all the world, I think I like the goat's cheese salad most. Or maybe Caesar salad. Or possibly a nice tuna and pasta salad with pesto... but the goat's cheese salad definitely makes the top five. It's fresh and crunchy but the cheese brings lovely creaminess and makes it a bit more filling. It's a perfect lunch or light dinner, or a perfect side for a meaty dinner. It's not really a complicated recipe, but sometimes just seeing food ideas is great and will get you eating something you haven't though about for a while. This salad definitely deserves to be eaten every now and then. And today's recipe is not just one recipe, in fact it's a three in one!

Caramelised onions:
1-2 onions
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp sugar per onion
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Goat's cheese salad (serves 2):
Mixed greens (I think goat's cheese salad definitely has to contain rocket)
1/3 cucumber
12 cherry tomatoes
4 tbsp caramelised onions
100 g goat's cheese

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette (stolen from Martha Stewart):
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
black pepper and salt to taste

Start by preparing the caramelised onions. Peel and chop 1-2 red onions. In a frying pan, heat up about a tbsp of olive oil and a tbsp of butter on medium heat. Add the onions and let cook until starting to soften. Add a pinch of salt, and about 1/2 tsp sugar per onion. Continue to cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, until the onions are soft and dark. While the onions are cooking, don't stir them too often so that the onions start to brown a little and lightly stick to the pan. If you stir the onions too often, they won't caramelise as well. If the onions become really dry towards the end and stick to the pan, add a few teaspoons of water. When the onions are dark and soft, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and stir to get the dark sticky stuff from the bottom of the pan to dissolve and add extra flavour.

While the onions are caramelising, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add honey, vinegar or salt to balance the flavours.

Divide the greens onto two plates. Slice the cucumber and slice the tomatoes in half and divide between the two plates. Add caramelised onions and the goat's cheese on top. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.

The verdict:
Fresh greens and creamy goat's cheese, what's not to love. I don't think I there is too much to say, it's a salad, it's tasty and refreshing and really easy to make. The onions take a bit of time and patience, but are dead easy and cook to perfection while you prepare the rest of the salad. I like to serve the salad while the onions are still warm to make it a semi-warm salad.

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