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Warm Goat Cheese Salad (salade de chèvre chaud)

Warm goat cheese salad, or Salade de Chèvre Chaud, a French popular classic on many restaurant menus at any time of year. Made best at home using fresh, quality ingredients. Serve with a glass of chilled white or rosé wine and lively conversation.

French goats cheese salad

My 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 soar to a sweltering 37°C like it did this week in Paris.

The Corsicans have a reputation of being stubborn. As a just-as-stubborn Scot, in our 30 years together we always reach a compromise. For a salad, this delicious exception to his cold salad rule is a salade de chèvre chaud, since the goat’s cheese is melted under the grill.

When I first tasted this salad as a student in a Parisian brasserie, it was a far cry from the one I later learned to make in Provence.  Alas, many brasseries use the horrid plastic-tasting, pasturised goat cheese which can be pretty nasty.

What’s the Best Cheese for a French Goat’s Cheese Salad?

The best goat cheese to use is Crottin de Chavignol. 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. I’m swiftly passing this part by, as it couldn’t be further from the amazing flavour of this lait cru (raw milk) cheese.

crottin de chavignol French goats cheese

As a student, Antoine introduced me to some of his friends in Provence.  I hardly spoke a word, apart from Je m’appelle Jill with a pronounced Scottish accent. On top of that, their typical twangy southern accents had me even more bewildered: ‘du pain’ is pronounced ‘du paing’, ‘du vin’ is ‘du vaing’, 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 wings in the kitchen.  We didn’t need much to understand French between us: everything was self-explanatory as the most fresh and flavoursome produce lay in front of us on an ancient oak table in my mother-in-law’s Provençal kitchen.

goat-cheese-salad

There’s nothing to this salad and it’s not even a recipe, as it’s so easy!

laurier bay leaf tree

Add a Bay Leaf and the Salad is Transformed

The most important lesson I learned from my French girlfriends was to put a simple bay leaf on top of each slice of crusty baguette which had been dribbled with olive oil before laying the slice of chèvre, walnuts, freshly chopped rosemary or thyme (or dried herbes de provence) on top. Then the whole lot dribbled over with a little more olive oil before toasting in the oven.

What’s the big deal with the bay leaf?  Well, when you taste it this way you don’t want your salad any other way again.

warm goats cheese French salad

Serve on top of your choice of green salad, topped with some fried lardons (bacon bits), more fresh herbs and plenty of chopped garlic (don’t forget to remove the core first, as it’s easier to digest) that have been pre-fried together.  Toss the salad in a simple oil dressing.

Warm goat cheese salad chèvre chaud recipe

Just remember to take out the bay leaf before eating: you’ll see just how it’s all beautifully fragranced. Ooh-là-là, summer, Provence, and serve with a glass of chilled rosé amongst friends.

Warm goats cheese french salad

Warm goats cheese french salad

Warm Goat's Cheese Salad (Salade de Chèvre Chaud)

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course : Main Course, Light Lunch
Cuisine : French
Keyword : goat cheese recipes, french classic salads, chevre chaud
Servings : 4 people

Description

A French classic found on many menus around France and so easy to make at home. Use quality ingredients and add a bay leaf to each toasted cheese slice and the salad is taken to another level.

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette cut into small slices (3-4 per person)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • firm goat's cheese Crottin de Chavignol (1 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
  • 1 tbsp bacon bits (lardons) (optional)

Salad Dressing

  • 3 tbsp olive oil* extra virgin (SEE NOTES)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Place under a hot grill for up to 5 minutes, or just enough to melt the goat's cheese and toast the walnuts. Prepare the plates with the salad leaves.
  • Meanwhile, gently fry the garlic and bacon bits/lardons (if using) for about 5 minutes in the rest of the olive oil.
  • Make the simple oil dressing: whisk or shake together the oil* and vinegar in a jam jar with some fleur de sel salt and a few turns of the peppermill and pour over the salad leaves on each plate. Top with the garlic, bacon (or add some cooked asparagus spears) and the toasted goat's cheese slices.

Notes

* I like to use a little walnut oil (speciality of the Dordogne/Périgord region) in this salad - so use half walnut/olive oil.

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Comments (35)

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


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