You may have noticed that at Rampant Cuisine we do not shy away from butter, cream, chocolate, and burgers and that thus far in our postings the majority of leafy, green roughage has been in the form of a basil sprig, a speck of chive or a pickle. We promise that behind closed doors we do eat our veggies. In fact, a hearty salad is our go-to meal when we get home from work late and time and creativity are short. We decided it was high time to make a salad worthy of a place on Rampant Cuisine… in other words, a salad that incorporates beer. Not just alongside the salad but IN the salad! This goat cheese-apricot salad with beer vinaigrette incorporates sweet and savory flavors into a dish that is simultaneously light enough to precede a special meal and hearty enough to stand alone as a main course. The breaded, pan-cooked goat cheese ‘puck’ is served warm as a creamy contrast to the cool, crisp greens, the chewy apricot and the crunchy, earthy walnuts. With a drizzle of honey and a splash of beer vinaigrette, this salad is proof that beer can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.*
*This statement has not been approved or endorsed by the FDA, a registered dietitian, or nutritionist.
Nathan and I have visited St. Michael’s winery on numerous occasions while visiting my grandparents in the area. We began our wedding planning on the arbor-covered outdoor patio and love whiling away a lazy summer afternoon chatting and tasting wines. The winery holds a special place in our mutual heart (stop gagging, Nathan!)
Our favorite wine that is produced there is Long Splice. A little background on the unusual name of the wine: St. Michael’s is a little town located on the Chesapeake Bay with a rich heritage of shipbuilding, sailing and crabbing. A long splice is a rope working term implying the joining of two ends of rope to make one super long rope. Long Splice wine is the joining of two grapes (Chardonnay and Seyval) to make one very tasty wine. The grapes are locally grown at the winery’s vineyard in Wye Mills, Maryland. The wine is dry and crisp and it paired and contrasted well with the creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness of the apricots.
Magic Hat #9 was the logical choice to pair with this salad. It tastes exactly like apricots, how could I NOT pair it with something that actually had apricots in it!? That being said, #9 is actually a pretty mellow and tame beer. Its middle of the road flavor either relieved the tongue from the tangy vinaigrette or washed down the smooth and heavy goat cheese and honey. My brother-in-law actually called me ‘girly’ for drinking this beer but you know what, Chris? I’m secure in my masculinity and will happily make a toast with almost any beer. Magic Hat has some interesting flavors but in the end the lack of intensity of those flavors doesn’t make it really stand out.
Magic Hat #9 Vinaigrette:
3/4 cup Magic Hat #9
2 Tbs. dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs. chive, chopped
1 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs. cup olive oil
2 Cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
In a small saucepan, combine the beer with the chives, dried apricots, garlic, and honey and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beer has reduced by half (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm.
Gradually whisk in the vinegar, then the the olive oil. Season the beer vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend the dressing until smooth.
Pan-Cooked Goat Cheese Pucks:
1 (11-ounce) log plain goat cheese
1 egg, beaten
Fresh white bread crumbs seasoned with 1 clove crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
Slice the cheese into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dip each slice into the beaten egg, then the bread crumbs, being sure the cheese is thoroughly coated. Place the slices on a plate and chill in the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes.
Melt 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook the goat cheese rounds quickly on both sides until browned on the outside and a little melted on the inside. Top each salad with 1 or 2 warm rounds and serve.
Mixed greens such as arugula, baby lettuces, spinach and radicchio
Radishes, thinly sliced