In France, I discovered the chèvre chaud salad, which seemed to be on just about every café menu in Provence. Hot cheese might be a bit retro, but it is so delicious I felt obliged to try as many versions as I could to see if I could find the best, and to make sure I could replicate it faithfully. After exhaustive efforts I think I have it sussed now, so here you go: try this as a gorgeous starter or a lunch dish on its own. Goes really well with a pinot gris.
2 cups watercress or rocket leaves
2 pears, cored and sliced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted in a dry pan
2 sheets filo pastry
canola oil spray
200g soft goat’s cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a screw-topped jar or similar and shake well. Set aside.
Divide the watercress, pear slices and walnuts between 4 small or 2 large plates.
Spray between the sheets of filo with some oil, then cut each sheet into 6 x 10cm squares. Slice the cheese into 12 even-sized pieces. Wrap each piece in a square of filo to form arty little triangles, or chunky squares like those in the photograph.
Place the filo-wrapped cheese on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or so – keep an eye on them so that the minute they’re golden brown, you’re there to take them out. Distribute the hot packages between the plates, then drizzle with the dressing.
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main
copyright: Niki Bezzant 2009. From Eating In: fabulous food for friends and family