Decadent crispy goat cheese on a bed of arugula tossed in a light vinaigrette, topped with toasted walnuts and sliced pears.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, this salad is lovely, but it’s basically a vehicle for the star ingredient, CRISPY GOAT CHEESE! Creamy rounds of goat cheese coated in light panko bread crumbs, then gently pan fried in a bit olive oil until browned and crispy. The delectable crispy rounds are placed on a bed of peppery arugula, tossed in a super simple vinaigrette and finished with toasted walnuts and thinly sliced pears. This salad is a perfect dinner party appetizer or for an elegant luncheon or brunch. I love this recipe as it offers a little decadence while eating your greens.
Cheese, and especially goat cheese, in all kinds of salads is nothing new. However, lightly pan fried rounds of tangy goat cheese served warm over a cool salad is a thing of true beauty. When I make this, those little crispy rounds do away with any need for additional protein, in my opinion.
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Tips for making Crispy Goat Cheese Salad
They key to successfully pan frying goat cheese is making sure that it’s very, very cold. Chilling it in the freezer for a bit before frying ensures that the cheese keeps it shape and gently warms through instead of melting and oozing out in a hot skillet.
Goat cheese can be a bit crumbly so to help cut clean rounds, I heat up my knife for a few seconds over my stove burner and slice through cold cheese. Don’t worry if it crumbles a bit, you can form it into a round with your hands and put it in the freezer to harden before you bread and pan fry.
The process of frying goat cheese means running it in and out of the freezer a bit while assembling the other ingredients. I promise you, the results are worth it.
What do I need?
Goat cheese – the log, not the crumbles!
Arugula – I love the pepperiness of arugula in this dish but you could definitely substitute baby spring mix or even baby spinach. It’s really just a vehicle for the goat cheese if we’re being completely honest.
Walnuts – the instructions call for toasting raw walnuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes. Do not skip this step! Toasting the walnuts brings out the nutty flavor and because the ingredients in this salad are simple, we want them all to sing!
Pear – There are a lot of different kinds but a ripe Anjou pear is my favorite. Those are the green ones.
Olive oil – the base for the super simple vinaigrette and more for lightly pan frying the goat cheese. Use good olive oil for this recipe because you will taste the difference. I’m obsessed with The Furies Olive Oil. It’s a small, woman owned company and the oil is sourced from family farms in Greece. It’s absolutely divine and I highly recommend giving it a try.
Champagne vinegar – mild and floral, this is perfect for such a simple dressing. If you don’t have champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar is a great substitute.
Dijon mustard – just a touch of dijon mustard in the dressing adds a bit of mustard flavor and helps it emulsify.
Honey – adds just a touch of sweetness to the dressing.
Flour, egg, panko bread crumbs – the ingredients you’ll need for a dredge station to bread the goat cheese. All purpose flour, one egg and seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs come both plain and seasoned. I always buy seasoned just to save myself the extra step in all of my recipes.
I love this salad recipe and I hope that you do too!
Crispy Goat Cheese Salad
For the crispy goat cheese:
- 4 oz log of goat cheese
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil for frying
For the dressing:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp champagne vinegar
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- ½ tsp honey
- salt and black pepper to taste
To assemble the salad:
- ½ cup walnuts toasted
- 5 oz baby arugula
- 1 Anjou pear
- Slice cold goat cheese into four rounds. Form into discs with hands if it crumbles a bit. Put on a plate and put it in the freezer.
- Add 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp champagne vinegar, ½ tsp of dijon mustard, ½ tsp of honey and salt and pepper to taste to a small bowl and whisk. Or add ingredients to a small mason jar and shake. Set aside.
- Set up dredging station with 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water in one bowl, 2 tbsp of flour in another bowl and seasoned panko in another bowl. Coat cold goat cheese rounds in flour, then egg then gently press into panko bread crumbs, making sure each round is thoroughly coated. Return to plate and place back in the freezer.
- In a dry skillet over medium high heat, toast walnuts in a single layer, stirring frequently for about 3-5 minutes until they smell slightly nutty. Make sure to watch carefully so they don't burn. Transfer immediately from hot skillet to bowl or plate to stop cooking.
- Core and thinly slice pear.
- Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Take breaded goat cheese rounds out of the freezer and pan fry for 2-3 minutes per side until golden and crispy. Remove and place on a paper towl to drain.
- Toss arugula with a small amount of dressing until just moistened. Arrange toasted walnuts, sliced pear and warm goat cheese rounds on a bed of dressed arugula and serve immediately with more vinaigrette on the side.