Warm Goat Cheese with Spicy Baby Arugula Salad

Baby arugula, tossed with cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, crispy bits of pancetta topped with lemony vinaigrette and finished with warm buttery goat cheese. I like to call it a sunny, summery salad with a composition of textures and flavors…
Baby arugula has a tiny peppery bite, not as sharp as the regular arugula, the juicy tangy taste of the cherry tomatoes when they burst on your tongue and the creamy, buttery, lightly toasted pine-nuts, the salty but crisp pancetta bits, then a bang of summer hits you with the lemon vinaigrette. Place the golden brown slices of goat cheese on top of the baby arugula salad and there is an elegant yet simple meal. Why not grill a nice piece of snapper or salmon and serve along side the salad? Throw in a crusty piece of french bread and a glass of white wine...hmmm, now that’s a good meal!

Baby Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Pancetta Salad with Warm Goat Cheese
4-ounce bag of baby arugula
¼ cup (2 ounces) pine nuts, toasted over low heat for about 2 ½ minutes. The heat brings out the buttery, creamy, nutty flavor and smell.
¼ cup breadcrumbs with finely chopped parsley, to give the coating a bit of color and texture.
2 slices (4 ounces), ¼ inch thick each of pancetta, diced, then sautéed until nice and crispy in the frying pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. No oil is required as the pancetta has enough fat. Once done, place on a paper towel so that the excess oil is absorbed. If pancetta is not available, bacon can do the trick just as well.
16 cherry tomatoes or ¾ cup, halved.
For the vinaigrette
1 garlic clove, finely grated
½ teaspoon of lemon zest
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
a pinch of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Mix the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper together first, then add the olive oil until you have an emulsion.
I have to admit, I love my dressing more on the tangy and sour side.
4-ounce roll of chèvre (soft goat cheese) cut in ¾ inch slices
1 egg, slightly beaten
a pinch of salt for the egg
1 cup of bread crumbs, I like a lot to work with, and a handful of parsley, which you need to chop finely or chunky if you wish, that a personal preference
3 tablespoons of olive oil
In a shallow bowl, beat the egg, adding a pinch of salt. In another bowl, pour the breadcrumbs and mix in the parsley. Set the bowls side by side so it’s easier to work with. Dip the pieces of chèvre into the beaten egg, then coat liberally with the breadcrumb mixture. In a heated nonstick skillet, pour the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, fry gently for about 1-½ minutes, about 30 – 40 seconds on each side or until golden brown.
Once done, toss all the salad ingredients together, vinaigrette being the last, then serve on a plate and put 1 to 2 slices of the golden chèvre on top. Voila! Here is your Warm Goat Cheese Salad! How easy was that?
Don’t be afraid of using a variety of leaves and experimenting with anything that’s in your fridge or pantry. Bring a beautiful summer day into your home everyday with an easy salad.
Have fun with your scrumptious salads and remember, always try to make them your own!

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