This salad was a staple in our house last fall and winter, but things have changed since then. One thing that’s changed is that my body can now tolerate balsamic vinegar as long as it’s not in large doses; that means I’m able to add it to things like these veggies that I roasted. Another big change has been learning that I have atypical celiac disease and also have major food allergies. Thus, the eggs and bread crumbs I formerly used for coating the goat cheese would not work now (or, more accurately, would work beautifully and then make me really sick!).
I love roasting vegetables and tossing them onto a salad; it makes a meal that is hearty and satisfying and not too heavy all at once. Also, it’s a great way to use random winter veggies from my CSA order. Last night, I peeled these veggies/fruits and chopped them into bite-size pieces to roast: delicata squash, apple, pear, and carrots. I would’ve used onions if I had remembered, as well. (I wanted to add pickled beets, too, something I’ve recently developed a love for after a lifetime of hating beets. However, Whole Foods was out of them.) Last year, I used a variety of other veggies: beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc. I think the key is to use a mix of sweet and savory and possibly even slightly bitter vegetables/fruits; last night’s meal was tilted a bit too much in the sweet direction for me.
In any case, I peeled and chopped those veggies and fruits, and I put them in a large bowl. I tossed them with a few pieces of fresh, sliced sage from my balcony garden; about 1 T of 10-year-aged balsamic vinegar; about 2 T of olive oil; 1 tsp. of herbes de provence (nearly any herb mix will work); and a bit of kosher salt. I spread them in a single layer on a non-stick cookie sheet and roasted them about 45 minutes–part of the time at 350 and part of the time at 400.
If you can’t tell, one thing I love about this combination of foods is that it’s forgiving. There’s no strict recipe; it’s just using what I’ve got and tossing it together.
I tore up my fresh (!), local (!), organic (!) butter lettuce that my CSA grows hydroponically, and I spread the greens over our two plates.
When the veggies had been in the oven about 10 minutes, I got out my log of goat cheese, which I had stuck in the freezer for 10 minutes to make it easier to slice. I prefer herbed cheese for this meal, but regular works, too. I sliced the cheese. Then I poured rice milk in one ramekin and gluten-free bread crumbs (the store-bought kind) in another. I dipped the cheese slices in the milk and then rolled them in the bread crumbs. As I finished each one, I placed it on a piece of waxed paper on a plate. Then I stuck the plate in the freezer for another five minutes.
While the cheese was cooling off again, I put a handful of walnuts into a dry pan. (I keep all sorts of nuts in my freezer so that I can add them to meals easily.) I toasted the nuts on medium heat, tossing them a few times, for 5-6 minutes. When they were lightly toasted, I turned off that burner.
I heated up 5 T of olive oil in a shallow, non-stick pan on med-high heat. When the oil was hot, I got the cheese pieces out of the freezer and added them. I let them fry for one minute on each side; unfortunately, the gluten-free bread crumbs . . . or the milk instead of the egg . . . did not hold together on the cheese as well as my old mixture did. But it worked well enough.
I pulled the vegetables out of the oven, scraped them onto our waiting greens, added a sprinkle of walnuts to each plate, and put a few slices of pan-fried cheese on each salad. Last year, we used a (vinegar-less) lemon-herb dressing that I would make for salads, and I think I should make it again this year. But for this most recent salad, we used more balsamic vinegar with olive oil and a touch of salt.
Sweet, sour, salty, savory. Tasty.