a little over a year ago, my other half took me to a cooking class at whole foods for a birthday present. it was, truly, one of my favorite gifts he has ever given me.
we went together, after leaving the girls at home with my parents, and cooked an incredible menu with about 5 other couples. we laughed, ate well, drank good wine, and met new people while learning a few new things in the kitchen. for real, it was one of my favorite nights ever.
the menu included a wonderfully hearty beef stew with wild rice, a rustic berry tart, buttery biscuits, and this lovely salad. the whole technique with the goat cheese really intrigued me, as i had never seen it done before but thought was crazy brilliant. at our station we had a little bit of the goat cheese leftover after wrapping the rest in the basil leaves.. you can bet i ate that straight out of the bowl. and the dijon vinaigrette has become a staple in my house, one of my favorite basic vinaigrettes that can go on pretty much any salad.
mixed greens salad with champagne dijon vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, and herbed goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves
makes 6-8 salads
6 cups mixed greens (i like to use a combo of bibb, romaine, and spinach), cleaned + rinsed
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted + chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinaigrette
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp agave nectar, or honey
4 oz plain goat cheese, at room temperature
small bunch basil leaves (you’ll need about 8-10 large-sized leaves)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped*
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped*
coarse sea salt & freshly ground pepper
1. in a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. (if your goat cheese is harder, add a little more olive oil to soften.) add a small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper – a couple twists of the grinder. mix well, cover with saran wrap, and place in fridge to chill.
2. preheat oven to 350. spread out walnuts on a dry cookie sheet. roast in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes. place on drying rack to fully cool.
3. in a mason jar, mix 3/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, dijon, agave/honey, and another small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. shake vigorously until well incorporated.
4. after the goat cheese mixture has had at least 15-20 minutes to chill, remove from fridge. on a clean surface or cutting board, remove stems from basil leaves and roll each leaf out flat. place a bit of goat cheese mixture onto the base of each leaf, and then roll the leaf up, wrapping the goat cheese mixture completely with the leaf. once rolled, using a serrated or very sharp small knife, carefully (saw the knife gently back + forth as to not break the leaf) slice the rolled leaf into small sections (you should get about 3-4 slices per leaf.) continue until all basil leaves have been used and sliced.
5. in six or so salad bowls, begin to assemble the salads. first the greens, then the basil leaf/goat cheese slices, sprinkle with toasted walnuts, and drizzle generously with vinaigrette.
*i stress using fresh herbs here, if possible.