Recipe for warm goat cheese salad, or Salade de Chèvre Chaud, a French popular classic seen on many brasserie menus around France.
How to make it at home using fresh, quality ingredients with top tips how to bring out the best flavours. Serve with a glass of chilled fruity white or rosé wine and lively conversation.
Can you Eat Goats Cheese Raw?
My Corsican 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 can soar to a sweltering 40°C like it did last week in Paris.
So, although goats cheese can be eaten raw, this is a delicious compromise for those that don’t like eating “just a cold salad”. By making a typical French salade de chèvre chaud, the goat’s cheese is melted under the grill over slices of toasted baguette. Hot melted cheese always works.
When I first tasted this as a French language student in 1992 in a Parisian brasserie, it was a far cry from the one I learned to make in Provence that summer. Alas, many Parisian touristy brasseries still serve the horrid plastic-tasting, industrial ‘bûchette‘ goat cheese. What’s more, they serve it on top of tasteless white slices of toasted pain de mie (sliced bread).
If you do see this, RUN! Instead make this recipe below using the best quality ingredients you can find and taste the real France like us at home.
What’s the Best Cheese for a French Goat’s Cheese Salad?
Most medium matured goats cheeses work well for this French salad. However, the best goat cheese to use is a Crottin de Chavignol from the Loire Valley. Made from lait cru (raw milk), it’s a small cylindrical cheese. It matures from a young 10 days to just over 2 months for a drier (sec) more powerful result. The best Crottin to use is young to medium rather than the stronger more mature cheese for this – but it’s all a question of personal taste.
Crottin de chavignol has been made traditionally since the 16th century and has both quality status since 1976 of AOC and protected (AOP) since 1996. As a result, the cheese has to be made around the Chavignol area and adhere to strict production criteria.
Why is it Called Crottin?
Why the name Crottin? 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.
However, that’s not what it refers to. Instead, according to the local community of Chavignol, it’s from the local French word ‘crot‘ meaning hole or an area next to the river where women cleaned their clothes. The clay soil here was used to make not just oil lamps but also the moulds for the cheese.
What Goes Well with Goats Cheese?
Hailing from the tiny village of Chavignol next to Sancerre, Crottin de Chavignol goats cheese goes famously with Loire white wines. This village also has tastings and fabulous Sancerre wines from the surrounding vineyards of Sauvignon blanc grapes. Put the two together and the resulting flavour combined brings out the nutty flavours of the cheese with a floral aftertaste of honey.
More generally, the other local variety of grape, Chenin, also accompanies goats cheese very well. That’s why the two main fruity white wines from the Loire marry well. So the simple rule of thumb of marrying local foods with local wines usually works – it’s all about le terroir, the land. However, a light fruity rosé wine (also from the Loire or Provence) is excellent too.
Likewise, as goats cheese has a nutty taste, toasted nuts also go well together: hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts in particular. Provençal herbs too such as rosemary, thyme, parsley – even lavender. Although honey goes well, avoid using it in this salad as it makes it too sweet.
How do you Cut Goats Cheese for Salad?
Typically, we use one Crottin de Chavignol goat cheese (typically 60g /2.5oz) per person.
As it’s round, we cut 3-4 slices from each horizontally. So each person has 3 or 4 cheese toasts. If using a different kind of goats cheese, then cut to size to fill the top of each bread slice.
How to Warm Goat Cheese for Salad – the Tips
As a student, Antoine introduced me to some of his friends in Provence at his parents’ home in Saignon (near Apt). I hardly spoke a word, apart from Je m’appelle Jill with a pronounced Scottish accent. What’s more, their twangy French southern accents were initially bewildering: ‘du pain’ (pronounced ‘du ping’), ‘du vin’ (‘du ving’), 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 wing in the kitchen. We didn’t need much language to understand each other. The most fresh and flavourful produce sat on my mother-in-law’s solid kitchen table: lettuce, olive oil, cheese, walnuts, garlic, bacon, herbs and bay leaves. So how did they do it? Here are the top tips for warm goats cheese salad:
- Dribble olive oil on each small rustic slice of bread previously rubbed with garlic;
- Put half a bay leaf under each slice of cheese;
- Top with a walnut, a sprinkle of herbes de provence (or fresh rosemary/thyme), drizzle more olive oil then grill;
- Serve with fried bacon bits and chopped garlic tossed together in the salad leaves with more toasted walnuts.
Salad Dressing for Goat’s Cheese
Serve on top of your choice of freshest green lettuce (Batavia, feuille de chêne, mâche/lamb’s lettuce). Top with some lardons (bacon bits) that have been fried together with freshly chopped garlic.
Add some more finely chopped fresh herbs such as flat leaf parsley then toss the salad in a simple dressing of olive oil (with some walnut or hazelnut oil). If you prefer more of a vinaigrette, add a little vinegar and Dijon mustard.
Before eating, remember to take out the bay leaf from under the grilled cheese. Taste how the bread and cheese are beautifully fragranced with such a simple ingredient. Ooh-là-là ! It’s a real taste of French summer. Serve with a glass of chilled Loire white wine or Provençal rosé amongst friends.
Warm Goat's Cheese Salad (Salade de Chèvre Chaud)
- 1 baguette cut into small slices (3-4 per person)
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 240 g (9oz) firm goat's cheese Crottin de Chavignol (1 @ 60g/2½oz per person, one slice on each toast)
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried herbes de provence or chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 handful walnuts
- 1 lettuce of your choice leaves washed and dried
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped (first clove cut in half initially - see first step)
- 1 tbsp bacon bits (lardons)
- 3 tbsp olive oil* extra virgin (SEE NOTES)
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp fresh flat parsley finely chopped
How to Warm the Goat Cheese for Salad:
- Slice the baguette or bread or your choice into medium chunks and rub each top with half a clove of garlic.
- Dribble a little olive oil on each baguette slice, add half a bay leaf then top with a slice of goat's cheese. Add a walnut and a little more olive oil on top and sprinkle on some herbes de provence or chopped fresh rosemary/thyme.
- Place under a hot grill for up to 5 minutes, or just enough to melt the goat's cheese, toasting the extra walnuts around them.
- Meanwhile, gently fry the garlic and bacon bits/lardons (if using) for about 5 minutes in the rest of the olive oil.
- Whisk together the oil*, vinegar and mustard (or shake in a jam jar) with some fleur de sel salt and a few turns of the peppermill. In a bowl, toss into the salad leaves with the fresh parsley. Arrange the salad leaves on each plate. Top with the garlic, bacon, the toasted goat's cheese slices and extra toasted walnuts.
This post was first published 1 July 2011 but is now updated with more readable text and better images.
Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to know how it turned out. Please let me know by leaving a review below (now you can rate it!). It means so much to have your support. On Instagram? Share a photo and tag @JillColonna and hashtag it #madaboutmacarons. À bientôt!
One of my all time favorite things to eat! I adore goat cheese, yes, even the pasteurized ones! Although, I know how much better yours in France are 🙁 What can I do? Love the bay leaf idea, but was wondering about eating it!!! 🙂
Oops – forgot to mention that you take it out before eating. What a wallie I am! But it’s so worth adding the leaves, as each piece of toasted bread is fragranced with it.
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!
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
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!
I love the bay leaf idea, and you are so lucky to have a bay tree! When I lived in Paris during college, my apartment didn’t have ac and it was so hot too!
Loving your goats cheese salad! That Antoine knows what is good for him eh?
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.
Cherie, this looks merveilleux! Where am I going to find goats poo cheese in England? Oh well, I’ll just have to come back to France 😉
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.
Beautiful salads, Jill. I love eating like this particularly when the temperatures soar! I won’t forget the bay leaf! ;- )
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 :)!
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!!!
I’m typically part of the salad-isn’t-dinner club but I would absolutely make an exception for this goaty-awesomness. Well done!
Stay cool! Buzzed
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!
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!!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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… 😉
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!
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. 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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 🙂
Warm goat cheese with walnuts on good bread I could skip the salad. The difference when you use a raw cheese is striking.
This is my kinda salad!! I love the addition of walnuts to the goat cheese…that is right up my alley.
It’s good, even if it’s just a good old classic! Thanks, Kate.
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.
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!
I love how you compromise here…it’s salad, and yet some of it is warm. So you both win!
What a team, eh? Thanks, Carolyn. Cold salad, warm heart!
Love chevre chaud! Now I’ll have to look for chevre!
Have fun, Pola